POLL FINDINGS: NZers want the wealthy to pay more tax

Most New Zealanders think the wealthy should be paying more tax, according to a new poll commissioned by the Better Taxes for a Better Future campaign.

The poll asked two questions about the tax that the wealthy should pay and the results revealed an overwhelming appetite for change.

When asked whether they thought wealthy New Zealanders (those earning over $180,000 per year or with assets over $5 million) should pay more tax, 61% of respondents in a representative poll said they should. Only 4% said the wealthy should pay less than they currently do.

“What surprised me was just how widespread these attitudes were across the political spectrum”, Better taxes spokesperson Glenn Barclay said.

“It is not surprising that Green and Labour supporters favoured taxing the wealthy more, but 49% of National Party and 50% of ACT supporters also said they want the wealthy to pay more tax.”

Support for the proposition was also slightly higher among older respondents, with 68% of over 55 year-olds and 68% of retired people saying that they believed that wealthier New Zealanders should pay more. 

“Given that wealthier people are likely to be a bit older after a lifetime of accumulation, this result was also a bit of surprise,” said Glenn Barclay. “And, when we looked at the responses of people in different income brackets, support held up pretty well the more people earned. 59% of those earning more than $100,000 agreed that the wealthy should pay more.”

Support was also strong across all regions, although Auckland recorded the lowest levels with 56%.

(Full details on the poll including question wordings are provided at the bottom of this release.)

I think wealthier New Zealanders (people who earn over $180,000 per year and/or have assets worth more than $5 million) should pay:

Percentage who think the wealthy should pay more than at present, by party voting intention:

In a follow-up question, respondents were told about the findings of recent IRD research which showed that the wealthiest New Zealanders pay tax at a lower rate than average New Zealanders do. Responses to a question about whether this state of affairs was OK were emphatic: 88% of respondents said the wealthiest New Zealanders should, at the very least, be paying tax at the same overall rate as average New Zealanders.

This view was relatively consistent across supporters of all the political parties. 

“86% of ACT supporters and 83% of National Party supporters felt this way, with Green supporters topping the list with 96%. Only 6% of New Zealanders feel the current state of affairs is OK,” said Glenn Barclay. “This sends a very loud message to political parties of all ideologies.”

Support was also strong across age groups, regions and income groups.

“The release of the IR research in March was a revelation,” said Glenn Barclay. “Up until that point we did not really know how much tax the very wealthy paid compared to most New Zealanders and now we know that most New Zealanders think that the unequal tax treatment the wealthy receive is wrong. This shows the value of greater transparency.”

Views on tax rates paid by the wealthiest New Zealanders:

Percentage who think the wealthy should at least pay the same overall rate, by party voting intention:

The response to both questions illustrates that there is appetite for meaningful tax reform once people understand the facts.

“The first question put numbers on what it might mean to be wealthy, using the top income tax threshold of $180,000 and the $5million in assets used by Treasury when considering the wealth tax proposal earlier this year,” said Glenn Barclay.

“That level of definition helped people understand who might be affected by tax increases and similarly the information revealed by the IR research will have also clarified some things for people.”

“While we think political parties should commit to positive tax changes now, at the very least these findings show that we need to talk about tax in an informed way instead of scaremongering whenever tax increases are being debated.”


The poll data used in the Better Taxes for a Better Future research was gathered by Essential Media in a public opinion poll run from 6-10 September. The data comes from a representative sample of 1154 New Zealanders aged 18 and over.

Full question wordings

I think wealthier New Zealanders (people who earn over $180,000 per year and/or have assets worth more than $5 million) should pay:

  • More tax than they do at present.
  • The same level of tax as they do at present.
  • Less tax than they do at present.
  • Unsure

In March this year, Inland Revenue released research revealing that the wealthiest 311 families in New Zealand paid around 9% of their overall income in tax, less than half the rate of the average New Zealander.  Which of the following statements best reflects your view about this finding?

  • I think the wealthiest New Zealanders should at least pay tax at the same overall rate as average New Zealanders.
  • I think it is okay if the wealthiest New Zealanders pay tax at a lower overall rate than average New Zealanders.
  • Unsure 

About our campaign

The Better taxes for a Better Future Campaign was launched in June with the support of 21 partner organisations.

 We're seeking a tax system that:

  • Is fully transparent.
  • Ensures people who have more to contribute make that contribution: that we gather more revenue from wealth, gains from wealth, all forms of income, and corporates.
  • Makes greater use of fair taxes to promote good health and environmental health.
  • Addresses the tax impact on the least well-off in our society.
  • Raises more revenue to enable us to address the social, economic and environmental challenges we face.

We're supported by:

Oxfam Aotearoa; Amnesty International; ActionStation NZ; Council of Trade Unions; The Salvation Army; Climate Club; Public Service Association; Council of Christian Social Services; NZ Nurses Organisation; Anglican Advocacy; Child Poverty Action Group; Post Primary Teachers’ Association; Closing the Gap;  Renters United; EcuAction Canterbury; Tax Justice Aotearoa; First Union; Wellbeing Alliance for All Aotearoa; Nelson Tasman Climate Forum; E Tu!; Tertiary Education Union.