The government’s new freshwater laws, signed off this week, have the potential to create significant unnecessary costs for ratepayers, farmers and entire communities, Federated Farmers says.
The news was greeted with a big sigh of relief – it is one more uncertainty off the table, he told Dairy News.
“I always thought they were going to be hard pressed to get New Zealand First over the line on this. From our talks with them they very much weren’t in favour of any taxes that would disproportionately hit the regions – or any taxes actually.”
But as an opinion poll published last week showed, the Labour Party and particularly the Prime Minister have a lot of support. “So there was always the potential they could have rolled the dice and tried to push their luck.”
It was also always on the cards the idea would be dumped and the decision has gone the right way, he says. It will boost farmer confidence.
“A lot of the lack of confidence is about so many of the uncertainties that are out there.
“Just having a few of those uncertain things taken off the table – I think it will boost the confidence a bit more.
“There’s a lot of things going right at the moment internationally commodity price wise so we should be a hell of a lot happier than what we are!”
The dumping of the capital gains tax is one less worry on the horizon.
There are still issues around the Emissions Trading Scheme and the Zero Carbon Bill and what might happen there, he says. And some of the water regulations that are potentially being drafted up may also cause some challenges.
“But the things that are going right are slightly more than the things that are uncertain.”
There was nothing in the tax announcements from Government that were of concern.
“It was just positive – there are a few compliance changes which they have signalled which we think will be good. They are not going ahead with the things we didn’t like – so nothing much to complain about.
“When we did the tax survey it was pretty well damn overwhelming the number of farmers that were opposed to Capital Gains Tax – 93-94%. There wasn’t any appetite from the rural community for a capital gains tax, so pretty happy with the outcome.”
The Feds says the decision is heartening evidence that the Government is willing to put well-reasoned and practical considerations in front of ideology.
“It’s clear the coalition partners have listened to widespread concerns that a Capital Gains Tax has too many downsides, including massive administration costs and the potential to put the handbrake on the progress of small and medium businesses vital to our economy,” Hoggard says.
“It seems to us that New Zealand First has been pivotal in this decision, and we appreciate their pragmatism.”
He says the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke about new measures to tackle land banking and land speculation, an approach that has a much better chance of tackling our housing affordability issues than a CGT.
The Feds are pleased the Government is committing to looking at the compliance cost reduction ideas mentioned in the Tax Working Group’s report.
“There were a number of these that are worth looking at, including increasing various thresholds (e.g. for provisional tax) and simplifying depreciation and Fringe Benefit Tax, and removing resident withholding tax on close company-related party interest and dividend payments,” Hoggard says.
“We’re also pleased with the assurance that there will be no resource rental for water or fertiliser tax - at least in this term of government,” Hoggard says.