Farewell to Tax Neutrality: The Implications for an Aging Population

Abstract

In the light of the financial consequences of longevity, the potential for widening living standards as the population ages, and the perception of an increased bur-den by the working age population, recent policy changes in New Zealand appear far from ideal. For nearly twenty years, the retirement system has comprised just a universal state pension, called New Zealand Superannuation, and voluntary unsubsidised private saving. The decision in the late 1980s to promote tax neu-trality for saving was critical to attaining a cost-effective, adequate, equitable and sustainable retirement income for all in an uncertain future. Nevertheless, a level playing field was only partially achieved and by the early 2000s, large imbalances in the economy were apparent. Strident calls to promote saving gradually under-mined the accord around tax neutrality for retirement saving leading in 2007 to the re-introduction of tax incentives for certain types of saving, and other types of state intervention in private provision. This paper examines how the twenty year experiment with tax neutrality is coming to an end and the implications this has for the support of an aging population experiencing increased longevity

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