Capital gains tax: Bogeyman or crucial reform?

Spotlight Lecture Series, Victoria University of Wellington
Capital gains tax Taxation Capital gains tax New Zealand OECD countries

Capital gains tax. It’s a topic that comes around every election year, and 2017 is no exception. Sometimes it’s a scaremongering tactic used to warn voters off considering rival parties. Sometimes it’s presented as a serious policy option that can, and should, be implemented. As always, the reality is probably somewhere in the middle.

Victoria University academics Max Rashbrooke (Institute of Governance and Policy Studies) and Lisa Marriott (School of Accounting and Commercial Law) explore what a capital gains tax might look like in New Zealand, and who would win and who would lose from such a reform.

The lecture covers:

  • What is a capital gains tax?
  • Why do we want (or need) a capital gains tax?
  • What a capital gains tax could look like - the policy design options


  • Wealth taxes 'have impeccable equity credentials and raise few plausible counter-grounds'
  • New Zealand's approach priveleges the wealthy; it is possible to make significant gains (e.g. through real property) and pay no tax
  • Such gains pass through generations untaxed
  • Meanwhile gaps between the top and the bottom continue to increase
  • Considerable scope to tax land/introduce capital gains taxes
Publication Details