24 May 2012

Wellingtonians asked what Budget means for them

10:55 pm on 24 May 2012

Radio New Zealand reporter Teresa Cowie asked some Wellington shoppers what difference this year's Budget will make to their lives.

Finance Minister Bill English delivered his fourth Budget on Thursday, with a sharp increases in the price of cigarettes and a doing away with tax breaks for some holiday home owners.

The Government will also scrap the childcare and housekeeper tax credit, while new livestock valuation rules will prevent farmers who change valuation schemes getting an unintended tax break.

Smokers will now have to decide whether their habit is worth keeping as the excise tax on tobacco increases by 10% every year over the next four years from 1 January 2013. This will bring the price of an average pack of $20 cigarettes to more than $20 by 2016.

Sargon Hermis, a painter and plaster currently living off accident compensation, says the price hike might make him cut down, but won't make him quit for good.

The 54-year-old says he is more worried about the health of very poor people who already can't afford to buy cigarettes.

Travis Stoddart works as a commercial fisherman and smokes about 30 grams of tobacco. The 22-year-old says he will be giving up - because this time the increase is more than he is prepared to pay to keep up his habit.

This year's Budget will broaden the tax base with the closure of tax loopholes and the removal of three tax credits. It's expected to save about $109 million over the next four years.

People who own baches or boats they use themselves and rent out are being hit in the pocket as tax breaks for deductions on these assets are going.

Travis Stoddart and his partner rent the house they live in and also own a rental property. Mr Stoddart does not not support the crackdown on people who let their holiday homes.

"They've worked hard to own a holiday house and if they can make extra money by renting it out to help subsidise it that's a good thing, isn't it?"

Solomon Ashton was made redundant just before Christmas last year and is looking for work.

The 57-year-old agrees that removing tax breaks for people with holiday home is not fair and could affect people's retirement nest-eggs.

Mr Ashton is worried the extra cost to bach owners will be passed on to their customers and says it will make it more difficult for extended families to get together for a holiday.

Anya Zohrab is 35 and works fulltime, but is on maternity leave for the next year after the birth of her son Teddy six weeks ago.

She is most interested in what changes the Budget will have on student loan. As long as the 0% interest stays, she is not bothered about having to pay it back at 12 cents in the dollar instead of 10 cents.

Finance Minister Bill English says the Government remains on target to return to fiscal surplus in 2014/15 and then to start reducing debt.