Jacinda Ardern says wealth tax not her policy after being accused of 'readying for mother of all flip-flops'

The Prime Minister says the Government has "no intention" to introduce a wealth tax "this term".

"Our policy is not to introduce that and that remains our position. Nothing has changed," Jacinda Ardern said at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference on Monday afternoon. 

She went on to say that she has "no intention of introducing a wealth tax here in this term and we are doing no further work on it".

"There is mischief [being] made here where it does not exist...  We have no policy to report on. There is no election policy I am putting forward for debate. My statements and positions have not changed. End of story."

It comes after Ardern on Monday morning wouldn't rule out implementing such a tax in the future, despite having said during the 2020 election campaign that she wouldn't introduce one while Prime Minister.

"We haven't formulated a policy. In all honesty, it is just not something that we have worked on yet. We are in the role of governing," she said on AM after being asked if a wealth tax was on the table. "We have not worked on our tax policy for 2023."

Both National and ACT released statements claiming Ardern was preparing for a flip-flop, with Christopher Luxon saying at a media standup he was "really concerned" about the Prime Minister's direction. 

"After categorically ruling out ever implementing any sort of wealth tax under her leadership in 2020, Jacinda Ardern appears to be readying herself for the mother of all flip-flops," ACT's David Seymour said.

Ardern has previously ruled out a capital gains tax (CGT) during her leadership and Labour promised at the last election that no new taxes would be introduced this term outside of a new top tax rate of 39 percent on income earned over $180,000

"We have already set out what our policy for this term is and we have implemented it," she said on Monday.

During the 2020 election campaign, Ardern was asked whether she would resign rather than implement a wealth tax, something the Greens were advocating for.

"It's not in play, so there is no need for the hypothetical. It won't happen… I won't allow it to happen as Prime Minister," she said.

The issue of a wealth tax returned to the spotlight last week after Revenue Minister David Parker gave a speech about how Inland Revenue is investigating the rate of tax being paid by the wealthiest of New Zealanders relative to their economic income.

Despite Parker starting his speech by confirming "we have no secret plan" to introduce any new taxes, such as a CGT or wealth tax, the Government was still accused of laying the groundwork for increased taxation.

Ardern repeated on Monday afternoon that the Government didn't have any work underway on additional tax policy. 

"I think New Zealanders want to know that, given that we pay tax on our income, ensuring that is exactly what is happening through our tax system and that people are paying their fair share. That is not an unreasonable question to ask and ensure that we have the data to answer that. We have gaps at the moment."