The head of one of the country's largest business lobby groups says big business will find a way around a tax on employee car parks, because they always find loopholes.
A high profile campaign which has united big business and unions reached Parliament this morning, with members of the FBT (fringe benefit tax) Action Group attacking plans for employee car parks to be taxed in front of members of the finance and expenditure select committee.
Kim Campbell, chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association told the committee that the tax imposed high compliance cost for little gain, and in any case big business would inevitably avoid it.
''The big end of town, who this is presumably targeting, have mostly already worked out how to get around this, which you need to take into account.''
Asked about how he knew this, Campbell said he was not sure, but big business always found a way.
''What you find, you probably find the big end of town can afford to pay their tax lawyers more than the IRD can pay theirs. And they've always found their way around things. I have no idea but they're very, very inventive.''
Campbell told the committee that the additional compliance costs of the tax were estimated to be in excess of $30 million, while the IRD estimated the tax would raise $17m. Asked how he arrived at the figure he conceded it was ''at best, an estimate''.
Earlier members of the group handed out bumped stickers, blaming various high profile National Party MPs for the tax.
Campbell said the tax would represent a broken promise, claiming John Key said to the Auckland Rotary Club in 2006 that he would not consider a fringe benefit tax on car parks.
It would also impact the safety of lowly paid workers, including thousands who worked during the night at the SkyCity casino in Auckland, a plea backed by the Unite Union.
Campbell said he had never seen an issue gather so much anger, so quickly.
"We do economic briefings around the country, I've spoken to maybe 4000 businesses in the last two weeks. I've never seen a lightening rod that's upset people more, this and the telephone tax. You wait until you get to the telephone tax. It's going to be really fun."
Earlier this week Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said the Government wanted to see holes plugged ''but we've got to make sure that doesn't create excessive compliance costs''.
A spokesman for English said at midday that he was not aware of his position changing since.
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