Election 2023: No church tax under National's plan, Newshub understands

The National Party won't be introducing a churches or charities tax in its upcoming plan, Newshub understands. 

Speculation has been rife after the National leadership refused to rule out taxing churches and charities despite saying it won't introduce other taxes, like on wealth or capital gains.

Charities and churches registered with Charitable Services and with a charitable status can currently gain a tax emeption. 

The National leaders were asked repeatedly about it on Tuesday morning.

"We will have to wait until tomorrow when we announce our tax plan," said leader Christopher Luxon.

Finance spokesperson Nicola Willis said: "We won't be giving a yes or no to any guesses you make today. 

"We will be making our tax plan tomorrow. That tax plan will include spending repriortisations as well as targeted new revenue measures so we can responsibly fund a package of income tax reduction focused on the squeezed middle who are doing it really tough."

Willis said there will be four additional revenue measures in the plan. 

"They will be specific, they will be targeted."

However, Newshub understands neither a church nor a charity tax will be proposed.

On Monday, Willis said the tax plan would be released this week. The comments on Tuesday were the first confirmation it will be released on Wednesday.

Willis said National's tax plan will "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".

She said it was "self-funding".

Asked if New Zealand has its settings right around tax for charities and churches, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said: "I think we can always look at the settings that we've got".

He said the Tax Working Group looked at taxing charities.

It recommended the Government "periodically review the charitable sector’s use of what would otherwise be tax revenue" and consider whether there should be a "distinction between privately controlled foundations and other charitable organisations" among other recommendations.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said it wasn't something he has recently looked at.

He said he was waiting to see what National has come up with.

"The National Party has been criticising every revenue-generating measure this Government has put in place. Interesting they are now coming up with some of their own."

The Government on Monday announced it was forecasting $4 billion in savings by clamping down on contractor and consultant spending, trimming some programmes, and pulling back on the amount of money planned to be spent on future Budgets.

That included trimming back some Budget allowances in the 2025/26 (by $250 million) and 2026/27 (by $500 million) years. 

"The changes are sensible and timely and, while significant, I want to underscore the fact they deliberately do not affect frontline public services," Hipkins said. 

Willis responded to the savings by saying it was "peak-Labour".

"After six years of spending New Zealanders' money with reckless abandon, he has now finally admitted he has a problem six weeks out from an election."

Other political parties have already released their tax policies, including Labour's proposal to remove GST from fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables. The Green Party is campaigning for a wealth tax and changes to income tax rates, while Te Pāti Māori wants GST off all food, a wealth tax and other smaller taxes. ACT wants a simplified tax system, with just two income tax rates.