According to Wikipedia, tax avoidance and tax evasion are part of a greater sin covering all actions deemed "unfavourable to a state's tax system.” Tax avoidance refers to the legal arrangement of one's financial affairs in order to minimise what the state regards as taxable income. Evasion, on the other hand, is generally understood to encompass fraudulent activity designed to render one's finances invisible to the tax collectors in a dishonest fashion.
Peter Dunne, Minister of Revenue, is overseeing the IRD's selective persecution of tax avoiders—people legally trying to minimise their tax liability. Yet he is treating them like criminals.
Note that in this situation the IRD are not chasing tax evaders, who are clearly breaching the law, only targeting people who file income tax returns and disclose to the IRD how they have managed their financial affairs.
Peter Dunne represents the United Future political party, whose tax policy clearly encourages tax avoidance. Dunne claims to believe that the tax system "should empower family and community self-sufficiency rather than creating dependency." What better way to create self-sufficiency than to make New Zealanders responsible for the costs of their own health care, pensions, income protection and other facets of their lives? What better way of avoiding dependency than to leave income in the hands of those who earn it, to dispose of as they choose, taking responsibility for their long term future?
But Dunne is nothing if not a purveyor of meaningless blather. To him, empowering families and offering communities self-sufficiency is blather. But chasing tax avoiders? That’s real work.
"This is not witch-hunt stuff," says Dunne. Well, only because there’s no actual stakes being erected at which folk are burned. Other than that it looks a hell of a lot similar. "People who are paying their taxes steadily and normally aren't a concern of ours in this regard,” reckons Dunne against the evidence, “it's the people who just wilfully avoid and ignore their responsibilities that we're after and we employ a full range of measures to get to them."
So, he is talking about tax evaders, isn’t he. Describing people as evaders who obey the law to the letter, and who use duly qualified and registered accountants and legal advisors to follow perfectly legal avenues with the aim of distributing wealth back to themselves and their families and communities. This is a witch-hunt targeting people who have broken no law, a witch-hunt with one aim: to maximise the amount of money they can remove from private citizens to fund state wealth-redistribution programmes.
According to the Dominion Post "The expected returns [on this exercise] show why this was one area the Government was keen to spend more on."
Government may not be in surplus by 2015—it sure as hell won’t be spending any less—but by the efforts of its Revenue minister (motto “You Can Get Blood From a Stone”) they hope to at least be sucking in more from you and me.
Yes, folks: this is similar to those “rogue cops” who ignore the speeding non-registered gang car with dodgy lights because it’s so much easier to get your quota by harassing law-abiding drivers for going five kmh over the speed limit. It's all about the IRD taking money from whoever they can most easily coerce it, the easiest source being the law-abiding citizenry—those suckers who think that by being honest and open with the IRD, they will avoid persecution.
This is nothing short of disgusting. Peter Dunne has betrayed United Future party members and voters. He clearly believes a person's justly-earned income belongs to the government, not to themselves; that legal counter-measures taken to retain earnings are immoral, not perfectly sensible; that anyone "deliberately seeking to avoid paying tax" is fair game, not a prudent taxpayer.
By Peter's logic, any downward adjustment at all of taxable income by a New Zealander leaves that person liable for action by the IRD.
Presumably then, all of our MPs have a moral obligation to maximise their taxable income so that the state can receive the maximum possible cut for redistribution?
Any attempt by an MP to divert income into family trusts, companies or other entities, or even to claim expenses against self-employed income, must count as tax avoidance measures and should thus be liable to the full weight of IRD investigation and demands for money. Any MPs manipulating their financial affairs, and tax return in this manner, are hypocritical to say the least.
If Dunne is to unleash the IRD pit bulls on law-abiding New Zealanders, the very least we deserve is a statement that he and his MPs are maximising their taxable income, after which the tax returns of all public service employees should be examined by the IRD to make sure that the government is complying with its own arbitrary rules. First three people to supply affidavits they are paying the maximum possible tax should be Peter Dunne, Bill English and Michael Cullen—the man who prostitutes himself to every government that comes along; the man who set up his domestic affairs to make himself the country’s highest-paid welfare beneficiary; and the man who hiked the marginal income tax rates for rich pricks thus giving Dunne and English the fuel for their witch hunt.
Oh, and by the way, I wonder if Helen Clark submits a tax return in our local jurisdiction? Surely, she must believe her income should not be immune to the maximum possible taxation and would be taking steps to pay it for the greater good of her fellow New Zealanders. Ah, hang on. The income from her Very Important Job is tax-free. Of course: it's one rule for the elite—for our intellectual betters—and another for us proles.
Sorry, Aunty Helen, I forgot.
See you next week!