Monday, October 03, 2022

Shifting the window

TOP has always been a pretty progressive party - in 2017 they campaigned on a universal basic income and a (complicated) property tax (as well as arrogance and cat-hating). Their new leadership is now pushing a simpler version: switching taxes from income to land:

The Opportunities Party has hung out its shingle for the 2023 election announcing a policy of $6.35 billion in income tax cuts, paid for by a land tax on residential housing, and welfare debt write-offs.


Under the TOP plan, a tax-free threshold of $15,000 would be introduced, following by a big tax cuts for middle income earners who would only paid 20% tax in income earned between $15,001 and $80,000. A new 35% rate would apply for income earned between $80,001 to $180,000, while the current 39% tax rate on earning over $180,000, introduced by Labour in 2020 would remain.

So basicly a more progressive income tax system, with the decrease at the bottom paid for by a land tax (which will overwhelmingly be paid by those at the top). There's obviously a lot to like here, and the only downside is that its been designed to be revenue-neutral, when instead it could tax land more and use the additional revenue to pay for better public services (such as a health system where completely avoidable shit like this doesn't happen).

As for cancelling WINZ debt, it ought to be a no-brainer. It is odious debt, imposed primarily because benefits are inadequete and Housing New Zealand is shit, and with racism and misogyny to boot. Most of it will never be paid back. Continuing to pursue it is simply an exercise in cruelty. Labour - who campaigned on "kindness" - would rather pretend to be helpless than fulfil its campaign promises and do anything about it.

These are both very progressive policies, similar to those pushed by the Greens (the Greens want a wealth tax rather than a land tax, but either is good). While I'm not going to support TOP - Gareth Morgan and Sean Plunket have basicly poisoned it forever - its good to have other voices pushing the window leftward. And as we've seen with other areas of progressive Green policy, if you win over the public, then eventually the neoLiberal status quo parties will have to follow...