Thursday, March 28, 2019

Littlewood on Early NZ Tax Policy

Michael Littlewood, University of Auckland Faculty of Law, has posted William Hobson and the Origins of the New Zealand Tax System, 1840-1842:
William Hobson (NZ History)
The literature on the history of New Zealand in the 1840s is extensive but it does notaddress systematically the methods by which the colonial government attempted to finance itself. This article addresses that gap. The inaugural Governor, William Hobson, conscientiously adopted the revenue-raising methods proposed by London (mainly land sales and customs duties) plus several others (notably liquor licensing, a tax on auctions, and borough council rates), but the revenues raised were nowhere near adequate to cover spending. Government salaries fell into arrears and the colonial government found itself insolvent. In desperation, Hobson resorted to borrowing, which predictably proved unsatisfactory. London blamed him for the Colony’s insolvency, but the real problem was that its economy was simply too small to sustain a government even remotely resembling the British colonial norm.