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National moves into Labour's territory

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/05/2017 Peter Wilson

Finance Minister Steven Joyce speaks to media. © Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Finance Minister Steven Joyce speaks to media. The 2015 budget increased benefits and the one that's about to be presented is expected to deliver a big boost for low-income families as National again carves into Labour's support base.

Despite Finance Minister Steven Joyce's denials, he will on Thursday present an election year budget designed to enhance the government's chances of winning a fourth term in September.

He confirmed this week there would be a family package in his budget, and it's expected to be linked to tax threshold changes that favour those on low and middle incomes.

An increase in the accommodation supplement and changes to Working for Families, which gives working families tax rebates, are also anticipated.

The Treasury is forecasting surpluses totalling $24 billion over the next four years, and that's considered conservative.

Mr Joyce has enough money to make a real difference for working families that haven't had much of an increase in their income in recent years and are struggling with higher rents and other costs.

Prime Minister Bill English says the surpluses will allow the government to announce "positive choices" in the budget.

"The government has worked hard for this, so have a lot of New Zealanders," he said, indicating it's payback time.

And the fact that the government has already made 17 pre-budget announcements ranging from infrastructure and health to conservation and tourism is a sign that it wants the media focus to be on what it's keeping under wraps - the family package and tweaks to the tax thresholds.

The current tax thresholds are:

* Up to $14,000 - 10.5 per cent

* Over $14,000 and up to $48,000 - 17.5 per cent

* Over $48,000 and up to $70,000 - 30 per cent

* Remaining income over $70,000 - 33 per cent.

(Source: IRD)

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