Tuesday 12 February 2019

Let's make a polling deal

Inland Revenue has admitted it was wrong to ask for New Zealanders' political persuasions in a survey they are carrying out for the Government on the eve of the release of a crucial tax reform report.

The taxman is researching the public's views on globalisation and fairness in the tax system. Questions had included where respondents sit on the political spectrum, prompting questions of whether taxpayers are funding sensitive political polling.
It would be bad if IRD were doing this kind of polling to help its political masters to sell whatever tax changes might be coming, but that's not the only possible interpretation.

We can also imagine scenarios where the political masters wanted changes that IRD knew to be a bad idea, that the politicians thought were popular, and that IRD wanted to be able to demonstrate were not only bad policy but also bad politics. "See? It isn't just rich pricks and right-wingers who hate this particular part of your tax package which we've also told you is a terrible implementation issue. Would you please now consider not doing this?"

I have zero inside line on this one, but it's not unimaginable.

Perhaps, as penance, IRD could just release the polling data for all of us to play with. It would be super awesome to have the full results. And then there'd be no worries about whether they were doing secret political polling for Labour - the results would be up for everyone to play with.
Around 1000 people are being asked questions about their views on Inland Revenue, whether they are generally trusting, believe what they read in the media, pay too much tax or whether public services should get more funding.

A question on where respondents sit on a left/right political spectrum threatens to skirt the department's legal obligation for political impartiality.

Polling experts said the results could give politicians valuable insight on how different demographics view the tax system
I for one would love... hmm. I'll try OIAing the full results.

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