Talking about tax minus the spin this Budget week

The Public Service Association is proud to present Progressive Thinking: Ten Perspectives on Tax, an edited booklet featuring ten leading authors, academics and campaigners writing on a broad range of topics on tax policy in theory and practice.

"We’re thrilled to bring together these ten progressive writers in one place to offer a counterpoint to the Budget week talk of tax cuts, which always seems to treat tax as inherently punitive rather than the foundation underlying New Zealand’s public and social services," says Glenn Barclay, PSA national secretary.

Progressive Thinking’s contributors consider everything from tax myths and political promises to specific measures for taxation on wealth and carbon emissions; from family assistance and inequality to social contract theory and tax avoidance. It also include primers on New Zealand’s history of tax policy and our relative taxation in an international context.

"There are a few recurrent themes across the ten authors - New Zealand’s lack of a comprehensive Capital Gains Tax to combat property speculation in the housing market, or the overall coherence of our broad-base, low tax model, for example. There’s also plenty of discussion around GST, foreign trust regulation, tax avoidance, inequality and the political rhetoric of tax cuts," says Mr Barclay.

"It’s clear to us that many core public social services are currently struggling to provide reliable, timely and high-quality services due to a low tax take, questionable Government priorities and the slow decay of underfunding."

"It’s even more unfortunate that all major political parties now seem to have bought in to the spin of having to signal their 'fiscal responsibility' by promising to cap spending on critically underfunded public services," says Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretary.

"This assumes that current tax settings and levels are optimal, and reinforces the idea that tax itself is a bad thing - a burden to bear - and nothing more than that."

"We represent everyone from the Department of Conservation rangers who protect New Zealand’s endangered species to the underpaid home support workers and library staff at the centre of their communities. Everyone from mental health nurses to senior staff at Government Ministries are telling us about how funding shortages are making their work more difficult," says Ms Polaczuk.

The PSA’s Progressive Thinking: ten perspectives on tax booklet is launched at 12:30pm, PSA House (Aurora Terrace, Wellington) on May 22nd 2017.

It is available to read online at


Foreword by Glenn Barclay & Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretaries

  1. Talking tax, with context and all that by Morgan Godfery
  2. History of tax policy in New Zealand by Dr Lisa Marriott
  3. What my parents taught me about tax (and fairness) by Max Rashbrooke
  4. Taxing wealth by Bill Rosenberg
  5. Four tax myths that might pop up this year by Keith Ng
  6. Tax and the Social Contract by Bob Stephens
  7. Climate change and tax policy by Paul Young
  8. New Zealand’s tax settings in an international context by Terry Baucher
  9. Tax and family assistance by Susan St John
  10. A light touch on foreign trusts and companies by Shamubeel Eaqub