More than half, 54 per cent, of the business leaders surveyed for this year's Mood of the Boardroom believe the corporate tax rate is not competitive when it comes to attracting foreign investment.
Around a third of respondents, 38 per cent, say they are not concerned and 8 per cent are unsure.
"On the face of it, 28 per cent is too high. But we only have a single tax on corporate profits, not the double tax which is common in many other countries", says a finance sector chair.
At 28 per cent, New Zealand's headline rate of corporate tax is higher than the global average of 25.2 per cent. It is significantly higher than the UK at 19 per cent or the EU member states which average 21 per cent. Closer to home, Australia is moving to a corporate tax regime where most companies will pay 25 per cent.
Around two-thirds, 64 per cent, of survey respondents think the government needs to consider a phased reduction of the headline corporate tax rate to 25 per cent by 2027.
That will see our corporate tax match Australian rates. About 22 per cent don't want that to happen and 14 per cent are unsure.
A phased reduction is supported by an air industry CEO who comments: "Capital and talent are highly mobile, fail to learn this at your own cost."
A fund manager executive chair says the move doesn't help domestic businesses: "Our tax rate is effectively the top individual tax rate."
Professional director Craig Stobo wants to see the Government look at the idea but says it should not be done in isolation from other tax rates including personal, trust and PIE tax rates. He is not alone; an energy sector CEO says any changes should be part of a wider look at tax and how it works. A business owner wants to see "a better strategy, not an isolated one-off solution".
Labour's tax policies
There's some agreement with the Gvernment's tax policies that impact the property and housing market. Beyond that sector, support for initiatives is, at best, lukewarm.
The most popular property-focused policy is the exemption build-to-rent investors will get from interest deductibility rules. This was announced earlier this year by Housing Minister Megan Woods. About two-thirds of respondents, 63 per cent, say they have some level of support for the plan while 20 per cent have no support for it.
Survey responses are similar for the historic 10-year build-to-rent exemption with 23 per cent of respondents having no support for the policy, 24 per cent say they "somewhat support the policy", 23 per cent say they have reasonable support for it and 12 per cent give it their full support.
A quarter, 26 per cent, of respondents, are unsure about the planned residential loss quarantining rules while 29 per cent don't support them.
Last year the Government announced it was extending the bright-line test for tax on the disposal of residential land to 10 years.
The original test, established by the previous National Government, was for two years, later extended to five.
More than a third of survey respondents, 37 per cent, say they have no support for the extension. Almost the same number give it their reasonable (18 per cent), or full (17 per cent) support with 25 per cent saying they somewhat support the measure.
The CEO of a real estate business says: "Bright-line is a test. It should not necessarily mean that capital gains are taxed.
"It is fine that these transactions are looked at and patterns of capital gains taken taxed if there is evidence of trading."
Recent legislation to limit interest deductibility for investments on residential property that can be used for long-term accommodation is not popular with New Zealand's business leaders; 45 per cent say they have no support for the move.
Talking about the property tax initiatives in general, the director of a food and beverage company describes them as: "Absurdly complex workarounds. A low-rate land tax or a capital gains tax is a far better and more effective approach."
A professional director says he would prefer to see a simple capital gains tax, while a bank CEO says: "Honestly, have the courage to implement a capital gains tax."
Red Shield CEO Fabian Partigliani says: "Fixing housing supply should be the key focus".
There's little enthusiasm in the nation's boardrooms for leaving the top marginal income tax rate at 39 per cent. The rate is for high-income earners who take home more than $180,000 a year. Almost half of those surveyed, 48 per cent, say they have no support for the policy, with only 11 per cent giving it their full support.
Foodstuffs North Island CEO Chris Quin says: "The 39 per cent marginal tax rate is acceptable if government spending is effective and the lower income tax rate is reduced funded by lower government spending. That way we can close the income to cost gap without causing inflation".
Government plans for various wealth disclosure initiatives are not supported by almost half, 47 per cent, of the surveyed business leaders with one director describing the moves as: "A Socialist-Marxist drive that puts NZ back into dark ages." Another director says: "The wealth project is misguided and just leads to the wealthy holding their assets offshore."
The Government's planned social unemployment insurance scheme is unpopular with over half (62 per cent) of survey respondents saying they have no support for the plan. Just 19 per cent say they support it.
An energy sector chief executive responded to Labour's tax policies with an alternative take: "I think there should be a reintroduction of inheritance tax. You should not be able to make future generations wealthy without putting in the effort. Taxing income is a retrograde tax, better to tax consumption further."
Greens' tax policies
The Greens' tax policies were not popular with survey respondents. Almost 90 per cent say they have no support for the idea of a wealth tax on the net worth of more than $1m.
When asked if they support a wealth tax as a way of broadening the tax base, respondents were split 80:20 against the idea. Of those opposing the idea, 41 per cent are against it generally, while 8 per cent say: "the fiscal situation does not require such a measure" and 31 per cent say: "are largely symbolic and do not really address wealth inequality".
Roger Partridge, chair of the New Zealand Initiative warns: "The wealth tax proposed by the Green Party will lead to capital flight, which is the last thing NZ needs." Two respondents commented that they would prefer to see a capital gains tax while two others say an inheritance tax or death duty would be a better option.
More than nine in 10 business leaders say they have no support for the Greens idea to introduce a top personal tax rate of 42 per cent for anyone earning over $150,000. One suggests the $150k threshold is far too low. The CEO of a communications business says: "Their policies do not aim high enough. They should be taxing the mega-wealthy, not hard-working Kiwis."
National's tax policies
National's plan to index personal tax rates gets the full support of 42 per cent of survey respondents with 41 per cent saying it has reasonable support. Only 2 per cent do not support it. There is less enthusiasm for the Opposition's idea to repeal most of Labour's property-related taxes. A third of respondents, 34 per cent, fully support the plan, while 1 cent have no support.
Opinions are more split over the proposal to repeal the 39 per cent tax rate with 41 per cent of the sample saying they are fully behind it and 23 per cent saying they have no support for the plan. A technology company chair says he thinks "the reduction of the 39 per cent might be politically a difficult sell. I think tax cuts for genuine middle-income people is probably better."
Two-thirds of business leaders, 62 per cent, say they have heightened levels of concern about wealth inequality after successive waves of quantitative easing and monetary policy responses increased the value of many assets. A third, 35 per cent, say they have similar levels of concern as in the past. A company director says: "This Government has ironically grown wealth inequality. They don't know what they are doing."
Seven in 10 New Zealand business leaders believe the government's main role in tackling wealth inequality should be through "ensuring suitable minimum levels of welfare and income". In other words, a heightened safety net. Some 13 per cent of those answering the question think taxing wealth and assets in addition to income is the answer. No one thinks taxing income at a level higher than 39 per cent is a viable option.
"Focus on economic growth and job growth which will lift incomes", says a food industry CEO. An infrastructure boss has a similar comment suggesting the government focuses on: "Building a competitive economy and lifting productivity." Chris Quin, Foodstuffs North Island CEO, says: "Reducing tax burden at lower income levels to balance income and cost better".