Finance Minister Nicola Willis unfazed by Brian Tamaki's 'big bill' threats

Finance Minister Nicola Willis has responded to Brian Tamaki amid the bishop's stoush with the Government as it considers the tax-exempt status of churches.  

Taking aim at Prime Minister Christopher Luxon last week, Tamaki said: "You've got to wonder where his head space is, because a lot of churches pick up the mess that dysfunctional Governments leave in society." 

Willis, asked about Tamaki's comments on AM, responded: "[That] doesn't sound very Christian."  

Tamaki frequently speaks out against the Government and, ahead of last year's election, his followers disrupted multiple campaign events from both sides of the political spectrum.  

In criticising Luxon last week, Tamaki said he planned to send the Prime Minister a "big bill at the end of every year charging all the cost that we're doing for free".  

But, despite Tamaki's criticism, Willis reiterated the Government wanted "to see everyone paying their fair share of tax".  

"We're conscious that, for some time, there have been questions about those churches that have a business arm - where the business is a pretty profitable entity - and they're paying a different rate of tax than other businesses because of their church status," Willis told AM.  

Willis said while it wasn't something the Government immediately prioritised, she confirmed the Coalition would look at it this term.  

The Finance Minister said it was "really important" the Government received advice before making any moves.  

According to Willis, the Government would need assurances such changes would improve the fairness of New Zealand's tax system.  

"Until I've seen that advice and that analysis, I don't want to rush to a decision," she said.  

"[I don't] doubt that there are many churches who are putting huge amounts back into our community; who are doing great work for vulnerable people, creating great services but, at the same time, I think for fairness' sake we need to do an evaluation to make sure there aren't churches who are taking advantage of their tax status - and that's why I want to look more carefully at this."