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Family-friendly budget on the way

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/05/2017 Peter Wilson, Political Writer

A family-friendly budget with tax breaks for low and middle income earners is expected to be unveiled on Thursday.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce has ruled out changes to tax rates, but he's indicated he could tweak the thresholds that determine the level at which higher taxes cut in.

If he does, it's likely the changes will be part of a package designed to help families which could include raising the accommodation allowance and the Working for Families tax rebates.

There's been a string of pre-budget announcements, including $11 billion for infrastructure over the next four years, but apart from those the government has given little away.

It will be this government's ninth budget, and Mr Joyce is giving a "business as usual" impression, but it's also an election year budget and the government will be looking to get votes from it.

The anticipated family help package will come in next year - if National is re-elected.

The government's books are in surplus - more than $1b, well above forecast - and tax revenue is expected to keep on rising.

There's head room for good news and the government has consistently said it would help low and middle income families when it could afford to.

Mr Joyce concedes he's in a good space because of a growing economy, but says the surpluses he's going to be looking at over the next couple of years aren't "massive".

"It definitely won't be a lolly scramble," he said this week.

"We've always taken a long-term approach, election year or any other year."

There's sure to be more money for health and education, and mental health services could be in for a significant boost.

The government is also acutely aware of Auckland's transport problems, which afflict about a third of the country's voters.

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