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The Life and Work of Richard John Seddon

The Land and Income Tax

The Land and Income Tax.

The combined land and income tax is still (1906) in force.

The land tax is the more important part of the dual impost. It is assessed on the unimproved value, that is, the capital value (or gross saleable value), less the value of all improvements. An owner of land the unimproved value of which, together with mortgages owing to him, does not exceed £1,500 (after deducting mortgages owing to him) is allowed an exemption of £500, but where such value exceeds £1,500 the exemption diminishes by £1 for every £2 that such value increases, so that no exemption is allowable when £2,500 is reached. If the total unimproved value of land in any assessment amounts to £5,000 or over, graduated land tax is payable on it (in addition to ordinary land tax) in graduations beginning at the rate of 1/16d. in the pound, and increasing by sixteenths to the maximum rate of 3d. in the pound. Mortgages are not chargeable with graduated tax, but, on the other hand, they are not deductible in assessments for graduated land tax. Owing to the deductions and exemptions allowable the number of land tax payers is only 22,778 as compared with the number of land-owners, 115,712. Fifty per cent. additional on the amount of the graduated tax is levied where the owners have been resident out of the colony for a period of not less than one year next preceding the date of the passing of the annual taxing Act. The Act contains a provision that in cases where the income from any land or mortgages, plus income from all other sources, is less than £200 per annum, and the owner is incapacitated by age or infirmity from supplementing such income, a further exemption may be allowed by the

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Commissioner upon his being satisfied that the payment of the tax would entail hardship on such owner. This discretionary power has been exercised in a considerable number of instances, especially in the case of widows and orphans with small means, and much hardship prevented. All mortgages are assessed at their full nominal value, except where it is satisfactorily shown that owing to depreciation of the security or other cause such value has been diminished. In the case of mixed mortgages—that is, mortgages which are secured on both real and personal property—the amount of the mortgage chargeable with land tax is taken to be the assessed value of the land included in the security, the interest derived from the balance of mortgage being liable to income tax.

The income tax is generally assessable on income, with the exceptions of the rents or profits derived from the direct use or cultivation of land, and interest from mortgages of land. All incomes are exempt up to £300. This amount is taken off the incomes of all taxpayers, so that persons with a net income of £300 would pay nothing, while one with an income of £350 would pay tax on £50 only, and so on. The system of graduation may be described as the total exemption of small incomes up to £300, a tax of 6d. in the pound on moderate incomes between £300 and £1,300, and on larger incomes over £1,300 at 6d. in the pound on the first £1,000 and Is. in the pound on the excess.

The rates of the taxes are as follows:—

Income tax—

On the first £1000 of taxable incomes after allowance of exemption of £300 and life-insurance premiums up to £50 6d. in the pound.
On incomes in excess of £1,300 1/-in the pound.
Companies (no exemption) 1/-in the pound.
Land tax—
Ordinary land tax (on the unimproved value) 1d. in the pound.
Graduated land tax (in addition to ordinary land tax) 1/16d. to 3d. in the pound.
Mortgages (on the capital value) ¾d. in the pound.

The net assessed incomes, after allowing all exemptions, amount to £5,522,200; the net assessed taxable value of land and mortgages, after allowing all exemptions, is £70,117,760. There are about 9,000 income tax payers in the colony. The land tax yields £350,000 a year and the income tax £250,000.

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