NZ Election 2020: Judith Collins still convinced Labour will introduce wealth tax

National leader Judith Collins is still convinced Labour will bow to the Greens and introduce a wealth tax, despite Labour's leadership team repeatedly ruling it out. 

"I don't believe a word they say," Collins told Magic Talk on Monday. "They always said they wanted to bring in a capital gains tax and that they couldn't do it in the end. Basically they got a real backlash from the public last time."

Despite Labour's finance spokesperson Grant Robertson and leader Jacinda Ardern on separate occasions both ruling out a wealth tax, Collins pointed to comments by Green Party co-leader James Shaw suggesting it would be a coalition priority. 

Shaw told RNZ's Morning Report on Monday he would expect to have negotiations about a wealth tax, if Labour and the Greens were to form a coalition Government after the election. 

"Yes I do. I don't know how those negotiations are going to go of course, that depends on the election on Saturday ... You've got to give voters a chance to have their say," Shaw said. 

The Greens want to make Kiwis with a net worth of more than $1 million pay 1 percent of their wealth above the threshold to the Government as tax. Those worth more than $2 million would pay out 2 percent as tax. 

"I don't care what they call it - they're coming after people's money. If you've got any money or assets, don't think these guys have any plan to pay down debt other than to take your assets, and that's what they're after," Collins said. 

Collins is beefing up speculation that some form of capital gains tax could be introduced under a Labour-Green Government, even though Ardern has ruled out introducing one under her leadership. 

"James Shaw flatly said that he would expect to have a conversation with Labour about a wealth tax. James Shaw was able to strong arm Labour into backing a private school in Taranaki, he has a proven ability to get Labour to the table."

Ardern on Sunday described Collins' speculation as "the last roll of the misinformation dice", but Collins is not convinced Labour has completely ruled out the idea. 

"This election, Ms Ardern needs to come clean with voters on her real agenda before they enter the ballot box."

Labour's Andrew Little described the speculation as "bizarre" in a Facebook post. 

"National appears to be spending vast resources promoting a bizarre conspiracy theory about tax. They're just outright lying," he said. 

"In Labour we've been very clear. No income tax changes for 98% of Kiwis. No new taxes, or further increases to income tax next term. We will not introduce a capital gains tax."

National had to correct a mistake in an ad claiming an average retired couple with $1.75 million between their home and retirement savings would be charged $140 a week under the proposed wealth tax. 

But the wealth tax is on individuals and only kicks in at $2 million for a couple - that average couple wouldn't pay a cent.

"Individual is still bad," Collins said. "Actually, a lot of elderly people, there's only one there because the other one dies - that's what happens - and so suddenly you're hit with this wealth tax. It doesn't matter if it's in two names, if one of you is dead, you're back into one name."

Labour's only tax policy is to introduce a new top tax rate of 39 percent on income earned above $180,000 which is expected to generate $500 million a year. 

"My only frustration is that the National Party continues to use misinformation in their campaign," Ardern told reporters on Monday. "My view is that they should be courageous enough to debate real issues and fact, not fiction." 

Collins is having to clear the air about a rumour facing her own party, pushing back against claims that National is planning to do away with Working for Families, tax credits for families with dependent children 18 and under. 

"We are absolutely not doing away with Working for Families. Absolutely not. I can categorically state that," she said. "We know that so many families now are so reliant on getting that top-up."

She's touting National's tax policy of 16-month income tax cuts

"We're mostly talking about tax relief for the average earner, so that's people on $63,000-$64,000... It will mean $3000 in their pockets."

Collins became National leader 13 weeks from this year's election, and has been hit with internal problems such as Hamish Walker leaking private COVID-19 patient dataAndrew Falloon's scandalbotched budget numbers, and MPs leaking against her

The latest poll shows National on 32 percent, and on that number it could lose some of its list MPs if they don't win an electorate. Newshub-Reid Research poll analysis shows National supporters have fled to and ACT.  

"We've got excellent people on the list who we want to make sure get back," Collins said. 

"But I also say to people, rather than giving their vote to another party thinking it's going to help National, the only way to help the National Party get excellent people like Nicola Willis through is actually to party vote National."

Collins has already told National supporters in Epsom to give their electorate vote to ACT leader David Seymour to ensure he gets into Parliament, but current polling shows ACT would get in anyway.