A tax expert is calling for the introduction of a poll tax on immigrants to help fund the extra infrastructure and public service costs associated with New Zealand’s growing population.
A poll tax is a duty imposed on all, or a particular category of persons, to fund a specific government expense. Mark Keating, a senior lecturer in tax law at The University of Auckland Business School, argues the Government should impose a flat levy on most immigrants to New Zealand to help cover the extra infrastructure and service costs from population increase.
In 2016, New Zealand Treasury estimated the extra spending required on hospitals, schools, roads and other infrastructure to cope with population growth - which is largely driven by immigration - at $100 billion dollars over 10 years.
The Treasury figures included:
- an upfront $1 billion on a Housing Infrastructure Fund to help local government pay for water, roading and other infrastructure
- an additional $530 million over six years to be spent on expanding and redeveloping 30 schools
- No one appears to have quantified the increased health costs yet.
“These figures suggest that New Zealand’s existing population of taxpayers will shoulder a huge additional tax bill to settle and assimilate its record number of new immigrants,” says Mr Keating.
“New Zealand is a desirable country with excellent infrastructure and public services,” he says. “Immigrants get to share in all these benefits, so why shouldn’t immigrants also contribute to them?”
Immigration New Zealand statistics show that demand for New Zealand visas consistently out-strips supply, he says.
“The laws of economics dictate that the market would set a price for what fee would-be immigrants might pay to join our club.”
Mr Keating suggests a flat immigration fee of $10,000-$15,000 per immigrant would provide a source of additional revenue to offset increased costs. He says there would have to be exceptions for some categories of immigrants (such as refugees or those filling skills shortages).
“But imposing a tax on most other migrants in return for their right to share in everything New Zealand has built up would be both reasonable and fair.”
In the year to January, there were 89,670 permanent and long-term arrivals to New Zealand, excluding refugees, Australians and returning New Zealanders. At $10,000 per arriving person, that would generate $896,700,000. At $15,000 per migrant, it would total $1.345 billion.