Election 2023: National unveils long-awaited tax policy

National has announced its long-awaited proposals for the tax system if the party is elected in October.

Leader Christopher Luxon said the changes would mean families without children earning less than $120,000 a year could get an extra $100 in their pocket each fortnight, which extended to $250 every two weeks for those with children.

"New Zealand should be a country where if you work hard, you can get ahead," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"In particular, the squeezed middle is being left behind. These are New Zealanders who work hard, sometimes juggling multiple jobs and family responsibilities but inflation and high tax rates are eating away their incomes.

"National's changes to the personal income tax brackets are capped at $78,100 of income, meaning everyone earning over this amount will receive the same amount of tax reduction per week."

Find the full details of the plan here.

Election 2023: National unveils long-awaited tax policy

These live updates are now over.

3pm - The Public Service Association (PSA) says National's proposed plan to cut back public service budget goes "much deeper than current belt tightening underway". 

"This will impact a wide range of services that are supporting New Zealanders including our most vulnerable, backing businesses to thrive and dealing with our long-term challenges."

Some agencies will be excluded from National's wish for departments to generate an 'efficiency dividend' including the Ministry of Health, Te Whatu Ora, the Ministry of Education, Corrections, Oranga Tamariki, Police, the Defence Force, NZTA and Kainga Ora.

But the PSA said others will be impacted.

"For example, the Ministry of Social Development, supporting people doing it tough, MPI keeping pest species and animal diseases out of the country, Customs protecting our borders, MBIE which drives economic growth, DOC safeguarding our much-loved iconic species, and Environment which is focused on dealing with climate change and pollution."

National's "targeting of the back office is simply short sighted".

2:50pm - Among the other jibes in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon was Finance Minister Grant Robertson calling Nicola Willis "Tricola Willis", presumably a reference to trickle-down economics. In response, Willis referred to Robertson as a "name-calling Minister of Finance".

Answering a question from Willis, Robertson also said: "The Johnsonville amateur dramatic society are really missing out on the Member's work today".

2:40pm - Asked in Parliament by National's Christopher Luxon why the Government hadn't adjusted tax brackets despite more people being in higher brackets, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the main reason they are in higher brackets is they are earning more under this Government.

Hipkins also attacked National's proposal to make changes to immigration fees, which he called a "talent tax".

2:19pm - New Zealanders will see "many families will be worse off under National" when they "sratch below the surface", Labour leader Chris Hipkins tells reporters.

"When you look at where they're cutting in order to pay for the increases they're talking about, you'll find that, actually, many New Zealanders are worse off." 

Chris Hipkins.
Chris Hipkins speaking to reporters on Wednesday. Photo credit: Newshub.

2:16pm - MPs have reacted to National's tax plan en route to the House.

Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson reiterated the proposal is "based on dodgy numbers".

 "It doesn't add up and the more time we spend looking at it, the more questionable those numbers are. It's also going to mean enormous cuts to public services and it means there will be no action on climate change - the biggest issue facing future generations and the New Zealand economy."

2:05pm - Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown says he supports National's proposal to dump the super city's regional fuel tax if elected but only if it's replaced with another revenue source.

"It is time that both major parties learned that they need to work with Auckland on transport and stop dictating to us.

"I look forward to sitting down with the Government soon after the election so we can work on an integrated transport plan for Auckland, which will include consideration of how transport projects in Auckland are funded."

1:45pm - National's proposal to scrap a Government public transport plan to help pay for the tax cuts is "concerning", Greater Wellington Regional councillor Thomas Nash says.

"Doubling the price of public transport for people on lower incomes, under 25s and disabled people is unfair and counterproductive. It transfers wealth from those with less to those with more and discourages public transport use meaning more congested roads and higher emissions," says Nash, the council's transport committee chair.

1:30pm - Green Party co-leader James Shaw believes National's tax plan is a a "cynical ploy to do the absolute least for middle income earners in order to get away with tax cuts for the wealthiest few".

"National has shown yet again that they don't care at all about those with the least," he says in a statement.

"Under National's plan, people on the lowest incomes would miss out while high-income property speculators can continue to line their pockets.

"There are not even crumbs in this policy for students and people on benefits." 

1:10pm - Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson is describing National's tax plan as "dodgy", claiming it will "make many families worse off".

"National's cuts to the public services are more than double those the Government announced on Monday. National will be asking for 8 percent cuts in many agencies and therefore they will not be able to protect frontline services," he says.

"Despite what they say, the fine print of their document says health and education will be cut to find savings.

"The Government announced earlier this week moderate restraint of public service spending, which would protect frontline services - National's cuts will gut the agencies that support Kiwis.

"National is laying out some voodoo costings today with their claim to be able to grab $740 million per year from foreign buyers. The plan relies on more and more foreign buyers coming into the New Zealand market every year, despite putting a tax on them."

12:56pm - As part of National's newly announced tax plan, the party is proposing to cancel a Government public transport programme - which would effectively double fares for some people.

Buried in the party's policy document is a line reading: "National will end funding for Labour’s 'Community Connect' programme of additional public transport subsidies in Budget 2023, which was badly designed and difficult to implement nationwide".

Jamie Ensor reports.

12:45pm - New Zealand First leader and former deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is blasting National's plan as "not not a formula for economic recovery".

"They are clearly relying on mass immigration and a mass foreign buy up of Kiwi homes to fund its tax cuts - and their 'squeezed middle' will be squeezed further," he says. 

"Bringing down the bright line test to just two years means the housing market will spiral out of control - with empty properties being flipped for massive profits.

"This is circa 2014 all over again - a speculative consumptive economy, not a sound wealth-based, export-growth, added value way forward." 

12:38pm - For a full breakdown of how much money you would gain from National's tax plan, click here.

12:30pm - Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March is slamming National's plan to move to user-pays immigration levies to help fund its tax policy.

"National is punishing low and medium waged migrant workers by hiking visa fees and creating a 'fast-track your visa' charge for rich migrants to pay for tax cuts," he says.

"This will create additional hardships and inequality for the same migrants they supposedly claim to advocate for."

12:15pm - The New Zealand Taxpayers' Union says National's plan is "heading in the right direction but needs to go further".

"Today's announcement is a welcome one with some significant victories for taxpayers but we need to see more radical change," the centre-right lobby group says.

"National has disappointingly significantly watered down its previous pledges to adjust tax brackets to account for inflation since Labour took office in 2017 - never mind since when the brackets were last set back in 2011.

"It's plans announced today would only adjust tax brackets for inflation over the past two years, meaning those middle earners not benefiting from their expanded tax credits will still be paying much higher tax on average than they would have been had brackets kept pace with inflation."

12pm - National's tax policy "could have been announced by Labour", ACT leader David Seymour says.

"It confirms there won't be real change without ACT," Seymour says of National's proposal.

"The tax cuts promise about half as much as Michael Cullen promised in 2008."

11:42am - ACT leader David Seymour says his party welcomes National's plan to restore interest deductability to landlords but "it can and should be done immediately, not be phased in over three years".

"Landlords have been hit with a double whammy of rising mortgage interest rates and increasing interest deductibility limitations during a cost-of-living crisis.

"The pressure on landlords and tenants is severe and they need relief now, not in the future.

"Restoring interest deductibility immediately would remove this upward cost pressure. Its a simple and direct way of doing something to halt the relentless increase in the cost-of-living."

11:23am - Christopher Luxon insists "external advice" has gone through National's plan in "great detail".

11:21am - National will launch an online calculator on Thursday so voters can determine how much extra money they will get under its plan if elected, Nicola Willis says.

11:18am - Nicola Willis says it's not yet known when National could return the Government books to surplus if elected, adding she'll lay that out after Pre-Election Fiscal Update.

11:16am - Christopher Luxon denies National's plan would be inflationary.

11:10am - Christopher Luxon says he's "not interested" in what any other party thinks about National's tax plan.

It comes after David Seymour, the leader of National's prospective coalition partner ACT, said Luxon's policy "could have been released by a Labour Finance Minister like Michael Cullen".

11:06am - As part of its fiscal plan, National is also promising to take the bright-line test back from a decade to two years if elected. Grilled on this, Christopher Luxon insists this will put downward pressure on rents.

11am - Answering questions from reporters, Christopher Luxon and Nicola Willis say they do not believe the foreign buyer tax will cause house prices to skyrocket.

10:58am - The National Party has sought independent advice on its costings, which has deemed them plausible, Nicola Willis says.

10:51am - Nicola Willis says National has received legal advice on the party's proposed foreign buyer tax on some houses.

She says the tax will not impact any of New Zealand's free trade agreements.

10:49am - "Our plan will take pressure off inflation," Nicola Willis tells reporters.

10:42am - National finance spokesperson Nicola Willis says the party's plan carefully targets the "squeezed middle".

"Our plan includes reducing spending on back-office bureaucracy and consultants, returning taxes raised on climate polluters to Kiwi families through a Climate Dividend, introducing a 15 percent foreign buyer tax on the purchase of houses worth over $2 million, ending the commercial building depreciation tax break, closing the offshore gambling tax loophole and moving to user-pays immigration levies."

10:33am - To pay for its tax cuts plan, National says it will introduce four new targeted revenue measures if elected. Those measures are:

  • $740 million on average per year from introducing a 15 percent foreign buyer tax on purchase of houses worth over $2 million
  • $525 million on average per year from ending the commercial building depreciation tax break
  • $179 million on average per year from closing a tax loophole and ensuring offshore operators delivering online gambling to New Zealanders, pay tax
  • $123 million on average per year from moving to user-pays immigration levies, excluding tourist visas.

National is also promising to implement the following "reprioritisations":

  • $594 million on average per year reduction in spending on back-office functions in Government departments, excluding non-core and frontline agencies
  • $400 million on average per year reduction in Government spending on consultants
  • $590 million on average per year Climate Dividend, returning taxes raised on climate polluters to Kiwi families rather than giving subsidies to large corporates.

10:31am - Under its plan, the National Party is promising to, if elected:

  • Shift income tax brackets to compensate for inflation
  • expand tax credits to reach more modest income earners
  • introduce the FamilyBoost childcare tax credit
  • increase Working for Families tax credits for working families.

10:30am - National's plan has been released to the public. Click here for the full details.

10:15am - Speaking to reporters on Monday, National finance spokesperson Nicola Willis said the tax plan would "put no pressure on inflation… it requires no additional borrowing [and] we can fully deliver it regardless of the state that Labour leaves the books in".

10am - National is due to announce the policy at 10:30am. You'll be able to watch the announcement live in the video above.

9:45am - A tax expert has questioned how National will fund its "expensive" tax policy.

"When you move these middle-income tax brackets you're affecting hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders," said Bruce Bernacchi, a partner at tax advisory firm Dentons Kensington Swan. "So you either need to have a significant amount of spending cuts or significant taxes to pay for it all," he told AM.

9:30am - Speaking ahead of National's announcement, Labour leader Chris Hipkins said there appeared to be "quite a lot of smoke and mirrors in what they're talking about".

He told Newstalk ZB National was trying to "make the numbers look bigger" by bunching tax cut figures together across households and fortnights.

9:15am - Labour leader Chris Hipkins on Tuesday called National "desperate" for trying to find four new taxes to pay for its cuts policy.

Hipkins said in Parliament National spent "two years saying tax cuts are affordable and now desperately trying to scrabble together four new taxes in order to pay for them".

9am - Ex-National Party Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett, discussing her former party's tax policy, said she believed middle income earners felt "forgotten".

"Giving them some relief, personally I think's a good thing," she told AM.

8:45am - Bruce Bernacchi, a partner at tax advisory firm Dentons Kensington Swan, said while he didn't know what National's exact changes would be, they'd likely be quite expensive.

"When you've ruled out capital gains tax, when you've ruled out inheritence taxes, ruled out wealth taxes [and] they're not going increase GST rates, it doesn't leave a lot," Bernacchi told AM.

8:30am - Earlier on AM, National leader Christopher Luxon said he wouldn't be slapping a tax on vapes to pay for the fiscal policy.

Questions remained as to exactly how National would fund its plan, with the party confirming four new revenue-gathering measures but remaining tight-lipped on what those measures were, given it opposed taxes on wealth and capital gains. Newshub understands a churches or charities tax is also off the table and Luxon on Wednesday morning ruled out a vape tax - for now.

"We haven't looked at that and actually considered that for this tax plan, we're very comfortable that we've actually got the mix right to deliver for the squeezed middle," he said.