Lower tax, GST take hurts Govt accounts

Lower corporate tax and GST received in the five months ended November took some shine off the Government accounts, although the figures released yesterday by Treasury are still well ahead of the previous corresponding period.

Treasury chief financial officer Fergus Welsh said the the operating balance excluding gains and losses (obegal) was in deficit by $2.3 billion in the five months ending November, about $400 million more than expected.

''At this stage, our assessment is the majority of this variance in core Crown tax revenue is timing in nature and will reverse out in coming months.''

The accounts showed corporate tax was $259 million, or 8.3%, below forecast. About a third of the variance related to a few large taxpayers revising down their current-year provisional tax assessment. Most of the rest was likely to be to do with timing as a few large taxpayers had been expected to have filed provisional tax assessments but had not yet done so, Mr Welsh said.

GST was $174 million, 2.7% below forecast, with around $50 million relating to earthquake refunds.

''At this stage, it is unclear whether the rest of the variance is due to timing or underlying weakness,'' Mr Welsh said.

Continued strength in equity markets saw gains recorded on financial investments of $2.8 billion, $2 billion ahead of forecast. As a result, the operating balance was $1.6 billion higher than forecast at $2.3 billion.

Finance Minister Bill English said the accounts reinforced the need for discipline.

''We remain on track to surplus in 2014-15 but, as we have said many times before, this remains quite a challenge.

''In particular, we need to remain focused and disciplined and now is certainly not the time to get loose with spending and fiscal policy - as some political parties are advocating.''

Labour finance spokesman David Party said National's much-hyped ''rock-star'' economy appeared to have hit a blip.

''Corporate tax revenue is less than forecast, meaning companies aren't making as much money as expected. That means the economy isn't going as well as [Prime Minister] John Key and Bill English like to trumpet.''


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