Ten amazing (and big) numbers about tax

Tax, tax, lovely tax. We all pay it, in one way or another, and we rely on it to pay for things like schools, healthcare and roading – our tax does some wonderful things. Here are ten tax numbers you need to know.

The Spinoff is hosting Tax Heroes – a series covering tax, who pays it and what it means. Click here to read more.

$75.6 billion

Treasury says total core Crown revenue for the 2016/17 year was $81.8b. But where does most of this money come from? Tax of course – the overall tax take totalled $75.6b in the 2016/17 financial year, or 28.2% of GDP. What’s so great about our tax system? Treasury says it’s simple and transparent, relative to other countries.

$11 billion

The government’s tax collector says that for the year ended March 2015 New Zealand corporates paid $11 billion in tax (the latest full number is 2015 because there’s a lag in reporting, IRD says). More recent numbers from IRD have the estimated corporate tax take at $15b for the year ended June 2017.

$5.8 billion

Of that $11b, large and significant enterprises – those with turnover in excess of $80m – paid $5.8b, almost half of the corporate tax take. And if we look a little closer, the largest 60 companies paid $3.8b, or 34.5% of the corporate tax take. Chunky. Read more about how much tax our biggest companies pay here.

$28.7 billion

And there’s personal tax of course (PAYE), paid by employers out of our wages. Us slaves to a salary pay 10.5% on the first $14,000 we earn, then 17.5% for earnings between $14,001 and $48,000 then 30% (woah) for between $48,001 – and $70,000 and 33% above that. Data from 2017 shows total PAYE paid in the year ended March 31 2017 was $28.7b. That’s a lot.

$7.7 billion

Of this whopping PAYE amount, again large corporates (those with turnover of more than $80m) contribute a decent whack – $7.7b, or 26.8%, which isn’t all that surprising considering large enterprises engaged 47% of all employees in New Zealand, Stats NZ data shows. The largest 60 companies paid $2.7b, or 9.3%.

$17 billion

Ah, good old GST (goods and services tax), the one tax that’s pretty much impossible to avoid even if you’re paid in cash (naughty) and are keeping your dollars stuffed under the mattress. This 15% tax is stuck on almost everything you can buy or sell, and it earned the government $17b for the year ended 31 March 2016.

$1.7 billion

And guess what? Yup, again large and significant enterprises (with turnover of more than $80m) are significant contributors to GST, paying about $1.7b in the year ended March 2016.

$30.6 billion

So where does all this lovely tax go? The biggest hunk of it goes on social security and welfare (Working for Families, superannuation and benefits for example), more than is collected in PAYE, with $30.6b spent in the 2016/17 financial year.

$15.6 billion

The next biggest tax taker is health at $15.6b, which helps to pay for services from 1,013 general practices, 20 district health boards (DHBs), 31 primary health organisations, 2,661 general dental practices, 39 public hospitals, 46 accident and medical centres,  225 Māori health providers and 35 Pacific health providers, to name just a few.

$14.1 billion

Goes on education, with the Ministry of Education responsible for employing more than 3000 people; with more than 70% of those working to “directly support children and young people or educators and education services”. The ministry says $6.8b goes on schooling, $3b on tertiary education and $1.9b on early learning.


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