Guy, Walker slam Govt ‘tax grab’

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JACK.CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

The Government’s Tax Working Group is out of touch with farmers, National Party agricultural spokesman Nathan Guy has told a group of Clutha district farmers.

Mr Guy and Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker stopped at a Toko Mouth farm on Monday to discuss the implications of proposed taxes from the Tax Working Group.

The Government was “disconnected from ordinary people”, Mr Guy said.

“This is a tax grab by a Government who don’t value the contribution farmers provide to provincial communities.”

Mr Guy and Mr Walker said they had added up five different new taxes recommended by the working group – a capital gains tax, an emissions tax, a water tax, a nitrogen tax and an environmental footprint tax.

“The Government’s Tax Working Group has recommended New Zealand introduce a capital gains tax on the family farm of 33% .. an animal emissions tax, water tax, fertiliser tax, and tax and a natural capital tax,” Mr Guy said.

“With all these taxes combined, a typical dairy farm could be paying up to $68,000 annually in new taxes if irrigated, or $25,000 without irrigation.

“An average sheep and beef farm could be taxed $20,000 per year.”

Mr Walker said that amounted to “15% to 20% of your earnings per year. This will affect the whole country.”

The pair were critical of the Tax Working Group, saying it was “out of touch” with farmers.

Otago Federated Farmers president Simon Davies, who hosted the meeting, said he understood the tax measures were to slow the effects of climate change, but disagreed with how they would be implemented.

“I just worry that the rest of the country don’t understand the implications of what we’re talking about here.

“Land values will drop .. We have targets, but we don’t need to bankrupt the agricultural sector to get there.”

Mr Walker lamented the difficulty of spreading the message to other sectors of New Zealand society.

“There’s a reason why farming business confidence is at the lowest in 10 years.

“You all get it. But our challenge is how do we explain this to someone living in Ponsonby?”

Agriculture Ministry Damien O’Connor said the Government was considering the Tax Working Group’s report.

“I have been honest with them [farmers] ..

“Some of those things may cost farmers but what we will do as a Government is assist them in getting more for everything that they produce and sell.”