Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her top Minister have faced a barrage of questions in the House this afternoon, being grilled on the red-hot housing market from National, Act and the Greens.
The main line of questioning from those three parties was around tax, with National and Act zoning in on potential changes to the brightline test.
Last week, Robertson said he was seeking advice from the Treasury on the policy – specifically looking at the impact it’s having in the market.
At the moment, the brightline test means if someone sells a residential home within five years of its purchase, they are required to pay tax – but there are a number of exceptions, such as if it was a family home.
In the House today, neither Robertson nor Ardern would rule out extending the brightline test.
“We are seeking advice on what impact it is having on the market,” Ardern said.
“In this current environment, that is absolutely the right thing to do – we need to know what levers are, and aren’t, making a difference to house price increases.”
She said that commenting on whether or not the Government would extend the test was entirely “hypothetical”.
Act’s David Seymour jumped in at one stage, following National down a similar question line over housing.
After National leader Judith Collins’ finished her questions, the party’s shadow treasurer, Andrew Bayly had a go – this time targeting Robertson.
“Does he agree with the Labour finance spokesperson Grant Robertson’s comment on Newstalk ZB on 9 September that there will be no extension to the brightline test?”
On that show, Robertson had unambiguously ruled out a change in the brightline test rate and timeframe.
In response to Bayly, Robertson said: “We are looking to Treasury for some advice on the current settings in the housing market in response to the rapid escalation in house prices”.
When Bayly sat down, the Greens finance spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter stood up, armed with her own line of questioning.
“Are rapidly increasing house prices in New Zealand almost unprecedented during a time of recession and growing unemployment causing wealth inequality to get worse?” she asked.
Robertson said the very reason the Government has asked the Treasury to do work on the brightline test was because ministers are concerned about rapidly escalating house prices houses.
Genter then asked focused in on the issue of a capital gains tax – something the Greens have been pushing for, for years.
The Government has already ruled that out numerous times.
But Robertson did say that the Government’s response to the issues in the housing market requires “a comprehensive package of initiatives that deals right across the board”.
“We are taking further advice on those matters at the moment.”
Meanwhile, Revenue Minister David Parker has suggested the Government will be keeping a close eye on trusts to ensure people are not using them to dodge the impending 39 per cent top tax rate.
He said if the Government finds evidence of this, then it could increase the trust tax rate – currently at 33 per cent – to 39 per cent as well.
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