Simon Bridges’ regressive tax hypocrisy

Press Release – Auckland Action Against Poverty

AUCKLAND ACTION AGAINST POVERTY

Simon Bridges’ regressive tax hypocrisy
National Party leader Simon Bridges has come out swinging against the Government’s proposed increase to the fuel tax, calling it regressive and unfair to New Zealanders. If Simon Bridges is going to come out saying that regressive taxes affect poor people disproportionately, something Auckland Action Against Poverty has previously said, he should also reevaluate his Party’s policy and history regarding other forms of regressive taxes they have championed.

“Simon Bridges’ crusade against the fuel tax, under the guise of a principled stand against regressive taxation in general, is nothing more than hypocritical political scoring”, says Ricardo Menéndez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty.

“Under the National Government, two forms of regressive taxation were increased. The first was the Goods and Service Tax (GST), which was increased from 12.5% to 15% in 2010. GST affects products such as food, driving food prices up and contributing to food deprivation amongst our poorest in New Zealand and the record number of food grants people are requesting from Work & Income every year.

“The second is the Tobacco Tax, which is one of the most aggressive forms of regressive taxation. The premise is that taxing ‘bad’ items, such as cigarettes, will lead to behavioural change and in the short term in New Zealand we have seen a reduction of tobacco smoking due to the introduction of this tax. In the longer term though, this tax has contributed to the notion that punishing people economically will deter unhealthy behaviour, without looking at other health determinants such as income, access to housing, and health infrastructure. Rich people are able to continue smoking, unfazed by the increases, while poor people have to pay a large proportion of their income on something that should be addressed as a health issue, rather than through punitive measures.

“If Simon Bridges is concerned about regressive taxation methods as a way to fund transport infrastructure, he would be proposing alternatives such as a tax on wealth and speculative transactions, which are progressive taxation measures that don’t put the burden on the poor. Simon Bridges could also be critical of the Government’s Budget Responsibility Rules and call for an increase in Government spending and debt limit to make sure our severely underfunded infrastructure receives the attention it deserves”.

“Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on political leaders to not mislead the public on their stances on taxation. Taking a hypocritical stand on taxation and using poor people as political football is irresponsible and leads people to the distrust of political leaders.”

ENDS

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