Profit gloat clashes with tribal tax exemption opposition

Waikato-Tainui would be a bit more guarded in gloating about their “record year of results and growth” if they knew what New Zealanders think about their tax-exempt status, Hobson’s Pledge spokesman Don Brash said today.

The tribe reported a net profit of $137.8 million on the same day that Hobson’s Pledge released a poll that showed that 68.8 percent of New Zealanders oppose tax exemptions for tribal businesses.

Distribution, touted as a record, was just $11.06 million.

The group paid only $12,000 of income tax in the previous financial year, which is possible because most of the tribe’s commercial investments can trade as tax-exempt charities, even if no profits are distributed or spent on the tribe’s charitable activities, Dr Brash said.

They would have paid around $39 million in tax if taxed at the normal corporate tax rate of 28 percent like other companies, Dr Brash said.

Tribal businesses have an unfair advantage over other companies which have to pay tax on their profits, Dr Brash said.

Waikato-Tainui’s current record wealth started with seed capital of $170-million from New Zealand taxpayers through the tribe’s 1995 Treaty settlement, and a further $103-million through its share of the 2010 Waikato River confiscation settlement.

Since 2012, the tribe has received regular top-ups courtesy of the relativity clause in the tribe’s 1995 settlement that specified that the tribe would receive 17 percent of anything paid to other tribes that exceeded $1-billion in 1994 dollars.

“Waikato-Tainui has been treated very generously by the people of New Zealand”, Dr Brash said. “Now’s the time for the tribe to start paying its fair share of tax.”