8 Sep 2014

Business tax not National's priority

8:55 pm on 8 September 2014

The National Party has told a business audience it won't cut the corporate tax rate. ACT and the Greens say they would, while Labour planned to to do so indirectly.

Politicians converged on Wellington's waterfront this morning to outline their vision for the economy to about 180 people at the Deloitte-Business New Zealand election conference.

They were asked whether they would cut the business tax rate of 28 percent in the next term - which Business New Zealand favours.

National's finance spokesperson Bill English said it was not a priority. "We have a higher priority on reducing debt and also on some moderate income tax reductions."

ACT leader Jamie Whyte says slashing the corporate tax rate is his party's top priority, firstly to 20 percent next year, and then to 12.5 percent by 2020.

The Green Party co-leader Russel Norman would also cut it, but only to 27 percent, and as part of its package to introduce a carbon tax.

Labour's David Parker says business tax would come down indirectly following the introduction of its capital gains tax.

"We should be funding some R&D tax credits getting everyone into KiwiSaver and accelerated depreciation allowances through revenue that we garner through a capital gains tax."

All parties supported keeping a lid on, or reducing, government spending, while ACT stood alone on abolishing Working for Families and interest-free student loans.

Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly said it is heartening that all talked about how frugal their spending plans would be if elected.