Friday, 29 April 2005
Tax changes for small business announced - and more to come
The costs of doing business in New Zealand will be reduced through a series of tax changes proposed by the government.
Revenue Minister Michael Cullen says the three payment dates for provisional tax will be aligned with the GST due dates,
to reduce the number of payment dates. Small businesses that want to pay provisional tax more frequently may choose to
make six payments a year. A complementary change will give GST-registered businesses the option of basing their
provisional tax payments on a percentage of their GST turnover. A new subsidy is also to be introduced for small
businesses employing up to five employees and using payroll agencies. Michael Cullen says these measures will be
complemented by a further - larger - tax package to assist business and economic growth in the May budget. He also
announced this week that from 1 April next year, employers will be able to calculate motor vehicle fringe benefit based
on a vehicle's tax book value as an alternative to using the vehicle's cost price.
Paid parental leave to extend to self-employed
Legislation to extend New Zealand's paid parental leave scheme to the self-employed will be introduced to Parliament
this year. Associate Labour Minister Ruth Dyson says since the Labour-Progressive Government introduced paid parental
leave in 2002, 45,000 people have accessed the scheme. Fourteen weeks paid parental leave will be available to
self-employed mothers who have been working an average of 10 hours per week during the six months before the birth or
date of adoption of a child (with the same right to transfer this to their partners as applies for employees.) Payment
is up to a maximum that is currently $346.63 per week. Ruth Dyson says it's estimated 2173 self-employed people would
take paid parental leave each year.
Berryman case referred to Solicitor-General
Attorney-General Michael Cullen has asked the Solicitor-General to report on whether grounds exist to apply to the High
Court for a new inquest into the death of Kenneth Richards on the property of Keith and Margaret Berryman in 1994. The
Solicitor-General alone has the statutory responsibility to determine whether such an application should be made.
Michael Cullen says given the recent public controversy, he's asked the Solicitor-General to advise whether he considers
there are sufficient grounds to apply for a new inquest. Dr Cullen noted that ministers are constrained from what they
can say on this issue, and that therefore it is proving very difficult for the public to gain a balanced view.
Nominations sought for new recreational fishing forums
Nominations are being sought from recreational fishers who want to be part of new regional recreational fishing forums
being established by the Ministry of Fisheries. Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope says this initiative will give
recreational fishers greater input into fisheries decision-making, and recognises the importance of recreational fishing
to New Zealand society. It is likely the forums will consider such issues as fisheries management, sustainability,
compliance and research. The new regional forums will be based in Nelson/Marlborough, Gisborne/Napier, Wellington,
Auckland, Auckland to Tauranga, Whangarei/Paihia. Further information and application forms can be found on the Ministry
of Fisheries website at www.fish.govt.nz. Applications must be received by 27 May.
New service to help children affected by family violence
A $12 million investment in services for children who witness family violence is a key part of the government's
commitment to eliminating violence within families. Child Youth and Family Minister Ruth Dyson says the new service will
focus on ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children who witness violence within families. Up to 45 child advocates
will placed in community organisations around the country. Child advocates will work with children who receive family
violence services. Their role will include education and awareness of the effects of family violence on children and
ensuring all agencies respond to the needs of the child.
Extra funding for business incubators
The business incubator sector has been given a combined $2.75 million funding boost. Associate Minister for Industry and
Regional Development Pete Hodgson says the Incubator Support Programme, launched in 2001, is proving extremely
successful. The 39 companies that have successfully graduated from the incubator network to date recorded an average
annual turnover growth rate of 135 per cent during incubation; employee number growth averaged 375 per cent. Incubators
typically provide workspace, support, intensive mentoring and access to capital for entrepreneurs and businesses at
early stages of development. The latest money will be used to cover operating costs at incubators in Auckland, Hamilton,
Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.