Who to vote for

Well, now I really am in a quandry around who to vote for at the next election. I remain, as always, wanting a centre-right government, but I am not sure that National being so dominant is healthy (the accusations of Labourlite are not entirely groundless and the policy platform has been a home this term).

Now, as a liberal, I am left wondering who I’ll be voting for at the next election (granted we are only mid-term here). I can only see 3 options at this stage (bar the founding of a real liberal party in NZ): National, ACT, and NZ First (I honestly never thought I’d say that).

National is in a problematic position for me in that they are now fully committed to a racist/separatist agenda, in line with the Maori Party, and they are dithering in the leadership space. The flag referendum was a patent waste of money and time and they aren’t doing much in the actual economic space (changing provisional tax is good, but there are plenty of real changes that need to be made in ‘resource management’ and the broader tax system).

ACT has been doing very well under Seymour, but remains a one man show (who are their new rising stars?), focus on some geeky areas of policy, and aren’t really offering to push National to the right (even if just in select areas). Equally, they still haven’t apologised to their voting base for previous mistakes, like the creation of Auckland Council. So they have some potential, but as yet they haven’t swung my opinion.

NZ First is the real stand out and the one with the most potential. Peters has actually made some sense in the past few weeks and, what’s worse, he’s shown a willingness to work with old does (coffee, Brash?) That doesn’t mean I trust him, as he’s a cunning fox, and the usual unwillingness to rule out a Labour coalition is a problem. However, they have a joker up their sleeve in that if they can get Jones back into politics, they’ll have someone who Waitakere Man, or Orewa Man (me) can vote for. That may not be a massive swell (white, heterosexual, man in the 30-50 range may not be the largest demographic), but we do tend to vote and would prefer a real bloke to someone who’s faffing about.

So it will be interesting to see where we end up, closer to election night.




Goodbye to Provisional Tax (Kinda…)

So the Government has announced* they’ll be reforming the provisional tax regime (among other things, such as changes to the penalty interest regime). There is no explicit removal of provisional tax, which remains, but you do get a new accounting option, which has a different payment option. This will be good news for a lot of people and should simplify a lot of tax compliance. It isn’t a ‘game changer’ or a ‘strategic vision’, but it will actually improve an area which causes a lot of headaches for a lot of people.

To be clear, as there has been some confusion expressed in this area, the change introduces a new accounting option (for calculating provisional tax)  called the Accounting Income Method (AIM). This will allow, in effect, you to calculate and pay your tax liability on a regular basis (bi-monthly), using your online accounts (so you’ll need cloud accounting of some sort), rather than the current 3-instalments per annum. The AIM will be available to anyone (not just companies, as some have claimed) with a turnover below $5m p.a. The proposal also makes it possible for companies to pay provisional tax, as agents, for shareholder-employees.

So it should make it easier for smaller businesses to comply with tax and make cash-flow management easier. There are other changes which look promising too (changing the Withholding Tax rules, and making them flexible, will be great for anyone who’s ever administered PAYE – well, at least, some of us). Again, it won’t hit everyone, and a lot of people will probably misunderstand the changes (‘why am I not getting a tax cut?’ and ‘this is just for rich pricks’), but the changes proposed will actually improve the tax system (even if only at an administrative level).

This doesn’t change my overall opinion, that National remains very limited in its scope to actually improve the tax system (we retain far too many, often complex, regimes – including things like FIF, which I find absolutely daft) and remains prone to political game-playing (hence the GST on internet goods and services, which so far hasn’t produced a workable model, as I see it). But I’ll take any improvement that does come along and the current political alternatives aren’t going to do any better of a job (they’ll just increase complexity and, probably, rates).