NZ Election 2020: How National's proposed tax cuts compare to Australia's

National is praising Australia for introducing income tax cuts to help stimulate the economy amid the COVID-19 economic recession, so here's a brief look at how they compare to the tax cuts National has proposed. 

Australia's current income tax system

Australia has income tax brackets the same way we do. But over the ditch, income up to AU$18,200 is not taxed. Australians start paying income tax at 19 percent on each dollar over AU$18,201 up to AU$37,000. 

If that were in New Zealand, you'd only start paying tax on income over about $19,600. 

Every dollar earned between AU$37,001-AU$87,000 is taxed at 32.5 percent, while income earned between AU$87,000-AU$180,000 is taxed at 37 percent. The highest bracket is 45 percent on every dollar at AU$180,000 and above. 

Low-income Australian earners are also entitled to tax offsets, worth up to AU$1080 a year. 

Australia's future income tax system

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg unveiled the nation's budget on Tuesday, which included tax cuts to be delivered to 11.5 million workers within weeks in a AU$178.8 billion plan to help the economy bounce back. 

Workers across the ditch would see lower rates of tax take effect on their pay packets by the middle of this month if the Australian Senate approves the plan. 

The Australian Government would backdate the tax cuts, meaning they could be delivered in this financial year, which commenced on July 1.

The 19 percent tax bracket (currently between AU$18,201-AU$37,000) would change, with the top threshold rising to AU$45,000. If it were in New Zealand, you'd be taxed at 19 percent on income between $19,633-$48,500. 

The 32.5 percent bracket (currently between AU$37,001-AU$87,000) would also change, with the top tax threshold rising to $120,000. If it were in New Zealand, you'd be taxed at 32.5 percent on income between $48,000-$129,000. 

New Zealand's current income tax system

All income in New Zealand is taxed, unlike Australia where it is currently only taxed from AU$18,200 (about $19,600 in New Zealand). 

Kiwis are taxed at 10.5 percent on each dollar of income up to $14,000, and the next tax bracket is 17.5 percent on each dollar of income between $14,000-$48,000. 

Income between $48,000-$70,000 is taxed at 30 percent, while the highest tax bracket - 33 percent - is reserved for income over $70,000. 

The highest bracket in New Zealand is lower than Australia's and Labour has proposed introducing a new top tax rate of 39 percent on income earned above $180,000, which would generate an extra $500 million a year. 

National disagrees with Labour's approach and thinks we should follow Australia's lead and give Kiwis income tax relief to help boost the economy rather than bring in a new tax bracket. 

National's income tax proposal

National wants to raise the tax brackets the same way Australia is planning to, but it would only be for 16 months, and all income would still be taxed under National's plan. 

It would lift the lowest 10.5 percent bracket up from $14,000 to $20,000. It would also lift the 17.5 percent bracket up from its current $14,000-$48,000 to $20,000-$64,000.

The 30 percent bracket, which currently taxes income between $48,000-$70,000, would change to $64,000-$90,000, and the highest 33 percent bracket - currently reserved for income over $70,000 - would change to $90,000.

If you earn between $60,000-$80,000 a year you'd get between $2500-$3500. But lower-income earners would get way less - $560-$900 if you're on $50,000. 

By comparison, Australians who earn between AU$48,000-AU$90,000 would get tax relief of between AU$2160 and AU$2295. If that was in New Zealand, you'd get between $2392-2475 if you earn between $51,000-$97,000. 

National has also proposed similar measures to Australia by giving businesses depreciation tax cuts if they purchase new assets. 

"Last night, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered Australia's budget which included significant tax relief for middle income earners and accelerated depreciation to fire up business investment," National's finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said. 

"At the end of the day, it's businesses who will create jobs, and jobs is what we need. We get it. Australia gets it. But Labour and the Greens don't."

Labour's revenue spokesperson Stuart Nash said Australia has "taken a different approach to us" and said the Government has focussed on investing in infrastructure. 

"You've had a whole lot of people come out and criticise the Australian budget to say there's nothing in here for young people, nothing in here for infrastructure, nothing in here for families," he told Newstalk ZB. 

Australia announced AU$3 billion in shovel-ready projects. New Zealand also announced a $3 billion shovel-ready investment in Budget 2020, but that's on top of the $12 billion infrastructure package announced in January. The Government's $3 billion is also spread across a much smaller population of 4.8 million compared to Australia's 24.9 million. 

Australia will also give $100 per week cash grants to businesses that hire people who have been on the benefit, and give more - AU$200 a week for 12 months - to businesses if their new staff member is 16-29 years old. 

National has a policy of giving businesses $10,000 every time they employ a new full-time worker. They'd get an initial $5000 payment when the hire is made, and the additional $5000 would be handed over after the new worker had been employed for 90 days. 

The scheme would be capped at 10 new employees, or $100,000 per business. 

Labour's finance spokesperson Grant Robertson said he was "prepared to consider it", but said it was risky because employers could exploit it by getting the initial $5000 and then letting the worker go.