Election 2023: National's new tax plan a hit in the playground

The squeezed middle is who National says it's targeting with its $14.6 billion tax plan announced on Wednesday. 

In what it's calling the 'Back Pocket Boost', the big winner is a very specific demographic - a family with a child under five. They could be in for an extra $250 a fortnight.

A household earning the average combined income of $120,000 a year will get a tax cut of $100 a fortnight. A minimum wage earner gets significantly less - just $20 a fortnight. 

Superannuitants will also be in line for a little bit of a boost. A retired couple would get an extra $26 a fortnight between them. 

National had one shot, one opportunity to seize the centre voter.

"I am telling you hope and help are on the way because a National Government will deliver for the squeezed middle," said leader Christopher Luxon.

National threw everything at it, producing a tax plan boasting $250 a fortnight for young families. It's $100 a fortnight for middle-income workers.

"We are going to restore the promise of New Zealand which is that if you are going to work hard in the best country on planet Earth, you can get ahead," Luxon said.

Here's all they're offering: The income tax brackets will shift up in line with inflation so you pay less tax, the Independent Earner Tax Credit is back, they'll match Labour's Working For Families boosts, and there's childcare tax rebate of $75 a week. All up that costs $12 billion. 

"We have heavily targeted our tax package at the median-income worker," said Willis.

The politics getting the playground spinning with excitement.

"I think that would be pretty helpful in a lot of situations, yeah," said one mum.

"I think it would give me a little more flexibility and freedom," said another.

These mums are already dreaming of what the extra cash could get their kids. 

"Getting better food for the kids because now with limited income we do have to watch everything we spend on her," said one. 

"I would probably put it towards being able to save up for his school uniforms next year and maybe make sure that he can get a few extra treats on his birthday."

But in the parliamentary playground, Labour's Grant Robertson called Willis "Trickola Willis" in the House.

The aim of the game is proving you can pay for it. 

Robertson called National's policy a "voodoo plan" and "fantasy plan" that "doesn't add up".

Luxon said he was absolutely certain National's plan adds up.

"We have done the work," he said.

That includes cutting and taxing.

On the cuts side is government contractors, 20 hours free ECE for two-year-olds and half price public transport gone.

"We prefer to give people the money direct into their bank accounts so they can make choices about what they spend it on."

National would raid $2.4 billion from the climate fund, while $2.1 billion will be spent on tax cuts for landlords, reversing the interest deductibility rules. 

Robertson said it's "effectively trading off children's futures for money for landlords".

There are also taxes, including reinstating a tax on commercial buildings, a tax on online gambling and migrants will be charged more for visa processing.

"It will have a major impact on our ability to get nurses, doctors, teachers, IT specialists, who we all need," said Immigration Minister Andrew Little.

Labour leader Chris Hipkins was calling it a "talent tax" in the House.

Luxon denies that.

But here's the biggie: foreign house buyers are allowed back but they'll have to pay a tax for the pleasure. It applies to purchases over $2 million.

National expects that to net nearly $3 billion and Labour says that's a heroic assumption.

"I believe this is fantasy money," said Robertson.

Luxon said National made "really good assumptions about how we built those numbers and they have been validated and I am highly confident".

Confidence radiating, Willis nearly got a little ahead of herself. She nearly referred to National as the Government. 

It's not the Labour Party's endorsement she's looking for, it's the mums'.

"I think it would help me vote for them," one said.