Politically Correct: Election campaign turns into an all-out war

The relentlessly positive election campaign has turned into an all-out war as Jacinda Ardern and Bill English take aim at each other following a shock poll result that suggests National has gained traction on its attacks against Labour's tax plans.

How so?

Jacinda Ardern has called National "desperate liars" and said their latest ad campaign was "full of lies and scare mongering".

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That's strong stuff - what prompted that?

National has launched a series of ads targeting Labour's tax policy and there are signs it is gaining traction on the issue after the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll put National 10 points ahead of Labour.

So what are the claims?

National says Labour is planning to raise seven new taxes ... they have listed a Capital Gains Tax, Land Tax, Inheritance Tax, Regional Fuel Tax and a Water Tax. Bill English also threw income taxes into the mix on the campaign trail Wednesday.

What is Labour saying?

Ardern was pretty angry. But Labour is also calling National out on its own tax policies - Labour says National has raised taxes 18 times, including hiking GST without warning, and also accuses it of cutting taxes when public services are "running on empty".

So who is right?

Well as usual in politics there is never smoke without fire.

On the income tax claim you can take your pick. National put into law its tax cut package, to take effect from April 1, 2018, as part of the May Budget. Labour has said it will reverse it and use some of the money for its own families package - which for some people is more generous.

So if you think repealing a tax cut that has not yet taken effect is a tax rise, you will believe National. If you think Labour is entitled to reverse Budget provisions it never agreed to then maybe you give Labour the tick.

What about the other taxes National is claiming?

Labour has confirmed it will establish a tax working group to look at a capital gains tax after the election. But Ardern has ruled out a CGT applying to the family home and has also ruled out a land tax on land under the family home, and says an inheritance tax is off the table. There is a lot of uncertainty, however, for people who own more than one property including investment properties or baches.

Ardern would have no argument with National's claim about regional fuel taxes, though to be completely accurate it will be up to local authorities to make that call. On the water tax, Labour prefers to call it a royalty but confirms it will make water bottlers and irrigation users pay this.

What about the rival claims of 18 tax rises?

Labour has set out the 18 tax rises that it says National introduced or put in place, including - correctly - the increase in GST from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent in 2010 (though remember there were personal tax cuts too as part of that package) and the move to slap an automatic capital gains tax on those who sell an investment property within two years - the so-called "bright line" test.

In 2012, National also introduced a tax on employer KiwiSaver contributions and halved the annual member tax credit, cutting up to $512 a year off savers. Labour have also listed National's $900 Family Court fees and a $22 border levy as well as tobacco tax rises, tax on digital purchases and a $2 rise in prescription charges.

But Labour has also dragged in some very marginal examples, such as cost increases for filing company returns, and the "paper boy" tax - which was eventually dropped. Also, six of the 18 are repeated rises in petrol tax.

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 - Stuff