Edited by Richard Cullen, Jefferson VanderWolk and Yan Xu
Chapter 9: Green Taxation: The New Zealand Story
Shelley Griffiths* INTRODUCTION 1. When I began background research for this chapter, I went to the website “Google New Zealand” and entered a search for pages from New Zealand matching the search term “behaviour modification and green tax”. The first “hit” was to the New Zealand Green Party’s youth affairs policy where “green” and “tax” and “behaviour modification” happened to appear in the co-leader’s policy statement but in a totally unlinked way. Subsequent “hits” were of no more relevance. Not to be deterred, I altered the search to “behaviour modification and tax”. Here, the first two hits were references to a US case appearing in New Zealand websites and thereafter the subsequent hits were of no more relevance. I share this anecdote, not to demonstrate my haphazard research skills, but to highlight the fact that behaviour modification and tax are strange bedfellows in the New Zealand context. Since 1984, successive New Zealand governments have remained committed to a broad-base low-rate income tax model. The main focus of reform in the 1980s was on broadening the tax base and lowering marginal rates. It was a move toward bringing the tax base closer to the economic concept of income. Previously, the system was one that could be described as narrowbase high-rate, and a major cause of that was the provision of incentives or concessions for activities that were seen as having social or economic merit. The reforms of the 1980s were predicated in large measure on a rejection of that policy.1 Notwithstanding...
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