PM Jacinda Ardern concedes Government should have been more transparent over scrapped KiwiSaver tax changes

The Prime Minister has conceded the Government should have been more transparent over its now scrapped KiwiSaver tax changes. 

The Government came under intense scrutiny last week after it revealed it was planning to tax fees paid on KiwiSaver accounts - which could have slashed billions from Kiwis' retirement funds. 

After facing a brutal backlash the Government backtracked on its plan, revealing on Wednesday it would no longer be going ahead. 

But Jacinda Ardern faced further questions about her party's plan on AM on Monday, including whether the Government was transparent enough. 

It has faced accusations it was trying to hide the proposal after it was left out of a press release detailing other tax changes.

The release included details about changes to tax for public transport and the addition of GST for Uber and Airbnb but made no mention of the planned KiwiSaver changes, something the Prime Minister has admitted it should have. 

"As you have described it was an omnibus bill so even though the whole thing was released, everything was put out but what you're talking about is just the covering press release statement by the Minister [David Parker]," Ardern told AM's Melissa Chan-Green on Monday. 

"He was of course making judgements over what he thought would be of the most public interest. Look it should have been included, there were a number of other things that should have been included so I am not going to argue with that."

Ardern said while she "doesn't believe" she saw the release before it was published, the KiwiSaver changes should have been included. 

But she said it wasn't the Government's "intention" to hide the proposal by not including it in the press release. 

"This is something IRD started work on in 2017, it was consulting on with those affected and as I say I believe it was October 2020."

The policy was scrapped after an uproar from opposition parties, Kiwis and industry leaders. One expert described it as a "sledgehammer". 

Before the proposal was scrapped  Allan Bullot, a tax specialist at financial advisory firm Deloitte, said it could shave $20,000 off Kiwis' balances. 

"Everybody that I've talked to that's got a KiwiSaver fund and is talking and looking at this… have told me that they consider it to be a brand new tax," he said.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon also rallied against the tax calling for Kiwis to "stand up" against it. 

"We're going to stop it," Luxon said. "I actually think the team of 5 million people needs to stand up this week and actually say to the Government, 'Enough, stop' and actually get the Government to withdraw it.  

And it seemed it worked with the Government revealing less than 24 hours later the plan would be scrapped.