Some 60 percent of small and medium-sized business owners are negative about the Labour Party's capital gains tax, says a poll taken for the accounting software firm MYOB, with 60 percent saying it was their "most unpopular" policy relating to the sector.
Representing 97 percent of the country's businesses and employing 30 percent of the workforce, SME owners on balance want tighter controls of foreign investment, with 54 percent nominating as a top policy they would support, according to the poll of 1,000 SME owners by pollsters Colmar Brunton.
Reduced broadband prices topped the "two three policies" list for SME's, followed by two-thirds (67 percent) support for simplified provisional tax rules.
Following the capital gains tax on "three most unpopular policies" list were raising the age of entitlement for the state-funded universal pension to 67 years, with 43 percent opposing that, while 39 percent opposed opposition parties' policies to scrap the 90-day trial period for employment regime, which the government claims has assisted job creation.
Labour has taken hits on its capital gains tax idea, with fumbling over details of the tax also revealing that an inherited family home will be subject to the tax, after a "grace period", which Labour leader David Cunliffe said on radio this week would be one month from the date of death, which was later amended to being the subject of expert advice on implementation after the election.
However, the issue failed to fire at a MYOB electoral candidates' forum, where the National, Labour, Green, Internet-Mana, Act and Conservative parties were represented, with New Zealand First unrepresented.
Labour's SME spokesman Trevor Mallard was asked one question about the impact of the capital gains tax where a business owner was using their personal home as security for lending.
"I'm not sure the capital gains tax system would cause any difference at that point," he said. "That happens at the point of releasing assets."
Mallard said businesspeople should accept the inevitability of a capital gains tax at some time in the future.
"It's a major gap in our system," said Mallard.
The clear winner of the quick fire opportunity was the Green Party's James Shaw, who self-deprecatingly thanked Wellington for having twice as much confidence in the Greens' capacity to run the economy as the rest of the country "at a whopping 4 percent", although that was only because the Greens had yet to be part of a government.
"You haven't experienced how awesome we are at it," said Shaw, who supported ending the 90-day trial period for new employees, arguing that high-earning management consultants such as he could bargain effectively but it was "high-risk for the bottom-end of the spectrum."
There was broad agreement among the candidates that New Zealand needs urgently both to train more and allow more immigration for skilled information technology workers because of the current serious shortage of skilled people for available work.
Things became briefly dramatic when Mallard and Conservatives leader Colin Craig jostled one another as they attempted to answer one question.