When it comes to issues, granddad with his shaving mug and bristly old shaving brush had nothing on us for working up a fine old lather.

The latest lather surrounds a possible Capital Gains Tax (CGT). It seems we're one of only  a few nations without one.  Correction. We do already have one, but we can't be bothered enforcing it. So now we want to swap it for a new one to also ignore.

Apparently the only other nations which don't have a regular CGT are a banana republic (Belize), and a dodgy tax haven (Cayman Islands). Given both these attributes feature on our own CV, our bed-mates are no surprise.

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The coalition government may not have built many houses so far, but it's crash hot at knocking up things called Working Groups.

The Tax Working Group (TWG) is chaired by a chap called Cullen, who may or may not be related to an ex All Black famous for his elusiveness - possibly a family trait.

Last week, the TWG delivered its recommendations for tax structure changes, with particular regard to CGT.

In publicly releasing the report, Finance Minister Grant Robertson was quick to acknowledge that "Cullen and the Tax Working Group had done a huge job". This type of comment risks falling between two stools, as I used to have a dog with a talent for doing the exact same thing.

But it may be an accurate description. When you have a closer look at the report's recommendations, it's somewhat underwhelming.

Chairman Cullen says it will bring in about $8 billion over five years, but only if all recommendations are accepted - which they won't be, if any at all.

It's not to say bits shouldn't be implemented – particularly with regard to investment properties - but the whole thing could cost as much to administer as the revenue it captures.

It's like the old classic western movie scene.


The bank robbers burst out of the bank with their loot, jump on their horses, and high-tail it out of town. When the posse arrives, a bystander in cahoots with the bandits yells, "They went that-a-way," pointing in a contrary direction.

Likewise, the TWG posse has scurried down the wrong trail. The TWG needs to follow the real money, and collar the real villains - the banks themselves.

Recall what caused the latest agitation for a CGT. Sometime back we licenced banks to create money out of thin air and charge interest on it – interest paid with the sweat of real brows.

Worldwide, this casino money fuelled property booms, where many made obscene profits simply by using property as gambling chips.

Particularly in New Zealand and Australia, the bulk of this extra cash flooded not into business investment, but the property market.

Here, residential mortgages have increased by over $100b in the last 10 years alone. No wonder house demand – and prices – exploded.


People now wondered why they had to pay tax on hard-earned income when speculators were creaming it by doing nothing, plus paying nix on windfall income.

Last financial year, the Australian-based four largest New Zealand banks — ANZ, ASB, BNZ and Westpac — had combined statutory after-tax profits of $5.17b, compared with a $1.7b combined profit for the 10 largest NZX-listed companies.

Dwell on that a moment: THREE times more profit than the top 10 NZX - Fonterras et al - simply by wrangling electronic "money" on computers.

We're the country hicks watching the city slickers ride off into the sunset with our hard-earned dosh, and scrabbling for the few loose dollars spilling from their packed saddlebags. Meanwhile, rack-renting proliferates, and first-home buyers are shut out.

How to right the rort? Easy. In return for having granted banks King Midas powers to alchemise money out of virtually nothing, let them pay an additional Midas Tax. Say, about enough to halve their current profiteering.

For the four largest banks, this would amount to about $2.6b per annum – still leaving the banks a tidy sum for marketing thin air, but a great boost for government public services funding.


Sounds sensible to me. Who could possibly object?!