Frequently Asked Questions

 

In this section, BINZ has selected the most commonly asked questions about the Basic Income concept. Some answers specifically relate to New Zealand but may be relevant to the situation in other countries.

 

Visit the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) website ( www.basicincome.org ), especially the BIEN FAQ section, for further information and a comprehensive list of answers to common questions. Also of value and of relevance to New Zealand is the Basic Income Ireland list of FAQs.

 

 

 

 

 
List of Frequently Asked Questions answered here.

 

The following questions are answered here. Click on a question or scroll down to see the answers.
 

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What is a Basic Income?

 

A Basic Income is an individual income paid to all legal residents as of right and without a means test
or other work requirements.
  • A Basic Income is often known by other names such as a citizen's income, a citizenship income, citizen's dividend, public equity dividend, social dividend, New Zealand Dividend, or New Zealand Income.
     
  • Examples of Basic Income include New Zealand Superannuation and the former Child Benefit.
     
  • A Basic Income may be compared with the dividends that companies pay to shareholders - it is a dividend paid to all citizens who are shareholders in the country recognising the profits that the government make from the money they have invested on behalf of its citizens. 

 

What issues does a Basic Income address?

BINZ has created this list of benefits. The list is not exhaustive.
 

  • A Basic Income promotes the wellbeing of all members of society.
     

  • A Basic Income will replace much of the present welfare system with a more efficient system.
     

  • The cost of administering the welfare system will be less ensuring more money is available for those in need.
     

  • Poverty traps associated with the current welfare system with high abatement rates are eliminated.
     

  • Money is better targeted to those most in need.
     

  • Stabilises the economy, taking the peaks off economic cycles allowing a higher-performing economy.
     

  • Improves the targeting of money to those most in need which will increase the velocity of money.
     

  • A higher-performing economy and higher velocity of money will both boost government revenue. 
     

  • Improves health outcomes, particularly for those on low incomes.
     

  • Reduced tax avoidance and evasion. The present welfare system with high abatement rates encourages both.
     

  • Reduced crime rates. The present welfare system with high abatement rates encourages crime.
     

  • Simplifies the income tax system reducing compliance costs.
     

  • Increased profitability of small firms and increased productivity.
     

  • Boosts the economies of low income and regional areas leading to more employment opportunities and increases in government revenues.
     

  • Plays a significant part in the reduction of poverty and child poverty in particular.
     

  • Gives people greater independence from an early age encouraging good life choices.
     

  • Encourages people to further their education.
     

  • Assists and encourages those who are innovative or who have entrepreneurial skills.
     

  • Recognises the work of those who stay home to look after young children, other family members, or the elderly.
     

  • Voluntary work is recognised.
     

  • Assists those who are trapped in bad relationships.
     

  • Allows for more lifestyle choices and assists those who participate in artistic pursuits.
     

  • Assists those who wish to participate in civil society and politics.
     

  • Eliminates the stigma of unemployment.

Some of these benefits are further developed in the questions and answers below. 

We encourage people to explore these possibilities and others in their own research into Basic Income and in their writing.

Who will receive a Basic Income?

All eligible New Zealand citizens and permanent residents will receive a Basic Income if they request it.
 

  • A Basic Income is likely to be paid to all New Zealand citizens and permanent residents while they are living in New Zealand.
     

  • Eligible citizens and permanent residents are likely to cease receiving payments if they are living outside the country for a predetermined period and cease paying New Zealand taxation.
     

  • Non-New Zealand citizens and permanent citizens who have a valid work permit may receive a Basic Income if they are working and receive New Zealand income above a specified level. Otherwise, they will receive no Basic Income and will be subject to a progressive taxation system as they are at present. 

Will all Basic Income payments be the same?

Yes, all Basic Income payments to will be the same regardless of other factors except that it is envisaged that Basic income payments may vary with age in broad bands and possibly with need but not by area or region.
 

  • There may be different Basic Income rates for those of less than working age (children), those of working age (adults), and senior citizens over retirement age.
     

  • The words 'Basic Income' used here usually refer to a Basic Income for adults of working age unless otherwise stated.
     

  • For more detail on Basic Income for children see the section on child's Basic Income.
     

  • For more detail on Basic Income for seniors, see the section on New Zealand Superannuation below.
     

  • With a Basic Income, those with permanent disabilities or ongoing needs may have their payments made up to current levels or alternatively may be considered for a higher level of Basic Income - a special needs Basic Income.
     

  • Basic Incomes are usually not varied by region.
     

    • A uniform Basic Income regardless of area or region assists regional development and discourages movement of population to major urban areas where living costs are likely to be higher.

    • Varying a Basic Income by region according to living costs may exacerbate urban drift and population ​accretion in major urban areas adding to the problems and costs associated with rapid growth in these areas and with depopulation in regional areas.

    • New Zealand Superannuation, a Basic Income payment, does not vary with region. This encourages many retired people to move away from the major centres to regional areas on retirement and thus boost the economies of regional areas.

    • The possibility remains for the payment of accommodation supplements for working-age people that vary with area, but that are only available for those on the lowest incomes, as happens now with the accommodation supplements for those on jobseeker support.

Will a Basic Income be indexed to inflation?

Once introduced it is essential that a Basic Income, whether for a child, adult, or senior, is indexed to inflation to ensure that the payment rates maintain their value.

What is a child's Basic Income?

A child's Basic Income is an individual payment paid for all legal resident children as of right and without a means test or other requirements.
 

  • The rate will either be the same for all children or alternatively varied with age in broad bands according to the measured costs associated with raising children in that age group.
     

  • The same rate will be paid for all children in the same age group.
     

  • It is envisaged that a child's Basic Income will be paid to the child's principal carer.
     

  • A child's Basic Income will replace other benefits and tax credits up to the value of the Child's Basic Income.
     

  • When a young person becomes eligible for an adult Basic Income the child's Basic Income will cease.

 

Some history.

  • It is worth remembering that New Zealand introduced a means-tested family benefit in 1926, payable for each child over 2 years old.

  • In 1946, means-testing and the age of eligibility were abolished making the payment, known as the Child Benefit, a universal Basic Income payment that was simple and inexpensive to maintain and administer.

  • In 1985, a degree of targeting was introduced.

  • The Child Benefit was abolished in 1991, to reduce expenditure during a period of budget deficits, and replaced with a more targeted but complex child benefit system know as “Working for Families", that is difficult and expensive to administer and full of anomalies such as a very high Effective Marginal Tax Rates (EMTRs).

What impact will Basic Income have on birth rates?


None.
 

  • There is no evidence that payment of a Basic Income, either paid to the parents or for each child, will influence birth rates.
     

  • Payment of child benefits, a universal basic income payment, in various countries including New Zealand, have not been found to impact on Birth rates.
     

  • During the period that New Zealand had a universal child benefit from 1946 to 1991, the overall birth rate declined. There were however some short term fluctuations due to other known factors such as the baby boom in the late 1940s and 1950s and the impact of economic cycles.

Will a Basic Income solve all problems associated with low incomes?

A Basic Income is not a total solution for all problems but is a very important part of the solution.
 

  • With a Basic Income, other government services such as education and healthcare are essential for the wellbeing of all members of a society and must be maintained.
     

  • Nevertheless, trials indicate that even a small or very modest Basic Income will boost general wellbeing, encourage people to seek work participation, encourage entrepreneurial activity, and the total wellbeing of those receiving a Basic Income improves to a greater extent than expected from the increase in income.
     

  • While a Basic Income is not a total solution, it is a critical part of the solution.
     

  • A Basic Income is not the solution to all the problems associated with low incomes and income inequality but it makes solving the problems a lot easier. 
     

  • Just because a Basic Income is not a total solution it is not a reason for not employing it as part of the solution.

What happens if I am receiving more than the proposed rate for a Basic Income now?

 

You will still receive the same or greater income.
 

  • Some individuals, such as invalids or those with disabilities and others receiving benefit payments at a higher rate than jobseeker support at present, will receive the Basic Income and additional payments to ensure that their current levels of income are maintained. 
     

  • An alternative is to pay a higher level of Basic Income to those with permanent ongoing special needs, or while their special needs persist.

Will Basic Income be compulsory?

 

Basic Income may be introduced as a voluntary option that co-exists with the present welfare and tax system.
 

  • With New Zealand Superannuation, all eligible citizens are entitled to apply for superannuation at age sixty-five. Applying is not compulsory and you can continue to work and pay tax without applying for superannuation for as long as you like.
     

  • Similarly, a Basic Income may be introduced as an option that you do not have to apply for. However, those who apply for a Basic Income must agree that when they receive a Basic Income all their income is taxed at the prescribed uniform rate.
     

  • Those who do not sign up will continue with the existing progressive tax rates and welfare payments.
     

  • This dual system will alow a Basic Income to be introduced progressively over a number of years if that is thought desirable.
     

    • For instance, for the first stage a Basic Income might be made available to those on welfare payments, extended to those on low incomes for the next stage, and finally made available for all.
       

  • A dual system also provides a fair alternative tax regime for those who are not eligible for a Basic Income such as non-New Zealanders in New Zealand on tempory work visas.

Is Basic Income affordable?

 

Yes, Basic Income is affordable.
 
  • Because a Basic Income is paid to individuals, not families or other groups, administration costs are minimised.
     
  • Basic Income eliminates a lot of the present welfare payments and significantly reduces administration costs. 
     
  • Paying a Basic Income generates additional government tax revenue that can then be used to pay the Basic Income.

 

With a Basic Income, savings occur in the following areas. 
  • A Basic Income will replace all welfare payments of equal or less value and partially replace all payments of greater value.
     
  • A Basic Income will either replace or partially replace tax credits such as working for families.
     
  • A Basic Income will replace other smaller payments such as student allowances.
     
  • A Basic Income significantly simplifies the welfare system reducing administration costs.
     
  • With a Basic Income, a uniform tax works better than a progressive tax at targeting the extra income to those who need it the most. 
     
  • When a Basic Income is coupled to a uniform tax rate, the Basic Income will target those on lower incomes. Those on no income will receive the full amount of the Basic Income but as other income increases, the additional net income received when compared with existing net income progressively reduces.
     
  • A Basic Income paid with a uniform tax significantly reduces the cost of a Basic Income when compared with a Basic Income paid with the existing progressive tax.
     
  • With a Basic Income tax avoidance and tax evasion rates fall significantly improving government income.
     
  • Basic Income is associated with improved health for those on lower incomes leading to a significant fall in health costs for the government.
     
  • Trials indicate that Basic Income produces significant reductions in crime rates saving government expenditure on crime-fighting and imprisonment. Reduction in crime increases general wellbeing for the public.
     
  • Basic Income payments boost the economies of low income and regional areas reducing the need for specific government support for these areas.

How Big will Basic Income payments be?

 

BINZ does not promote any particular level of Basic Income. 
 
  • International Basic Income experts recommend Basic Income payment levels in the range of 20% to 30% of GDP per capita.
     
  • As of July 2019, the New Zealand GDP per capita is NZ $57,160.
     
  • This gives an annual Basic Income range before tax of $11,400 to $17,150 and after-tax of $7,980 to $11,490.
     
  • The equivalent weekly payments are $219 to $329 before tax or $147 to $220 after tax. 
     
  • For comparison, the 2019 adult jobseeker support rate is $219 per week after tax.
     
  • Several alternatives have been suggested. They are discussed below.
1.  First alternative - a minimal payment of $175 per week.
 
  • A Basic Income of $175 per week after-tax coupled with a 33% uniform tax on all other income has been suggested.
     
    • $175 per week is just a little more than the amount required to offset the extra tax paid by those earning over $70,000 p.a. when the present progressive tax is replaced with a uniform tax of 33%. 
    • The figure of $175 per week is chosen as it is a nice round figure.
    • The tax rate of 33% is the current maximum tax rate paid on income over $70,000 with the progressive tax system.
       
  • A payment of $175 is also suggested because it gives a low-cost Basic Income required to introduce a Basic Income.
     
  • With a Basic Income of $175 per week, those who are on jobseeker support at present will still require additional payments to increase their incomes to the current jobseeker support levels.
     
    • As a consequence administration costs remain higher than if the second alternative is adopted.
       
  • Because the $175 rate is linked to the present progressive tax system it will not be indexed with inflation.
     
    • Consequently, the additional payment required to bring the income of those on jobseeker support up to the jobseeker support level must be increased each year to keep up with inflation.
    • This will progressively erode the value of the Basic Income component as a percentage of the total income received by individuals and over time erode the advantages of having a Basic Income.
       
  • If the $175 is indexed with inflation it will cease to be a nice round figure and costs will rise as those with incomes over $70,000 p.a. receive greater net income from the Basic Income.
2.  Second alternative - convert jobseeker support payments to Basic Income payments.
 
  • A second alternative is to make the present jobseeker support payments Basic Income payments of the same after-tax value.
     
  • This rate will eliminate jobseeker support payments and significantly reduce administration costs.
     
  • The present levels for jobseeker support fit within the international recommended levels for a Basic Income.
     
  • The Basic Income payment rate must be increased each year to keep up with inflation and maintain the value of the payment.
     
  • While the Basic Income will replace jobseeker support payments, other payments that those on jobseeker support receive such as the accommodation supplement will remain unaffected.
     
  • Those on welfare benefits higher than jobseeker support will still require additional payments to bring their income levels up to present levels, or if they are eligible, they may qualify for a higher level of Basic Income.
     
  • Assuming a uniform tax of 33%, those with incomes over $70,000 p.a. who receive a Basic Income will receive an after-tax payment that increases by a dollar for each additional after-tax dollar that the Basic Income exceeds $175. 
3.  Third alternative - use a nice round annual figure to replace jobseeker support.
 
  • Some advocates suggest a nice round annual figure for the introduction of a Basic Income such as after-tax payments of either:
     
    • $11,000 p.a. ($211 p.w.). This is less than the current jobseeker support rates.
    • $12,000 p.a. ($230 p.w.). This is a little more than the current jobseeker support rates.​
       
  • As the first figure is less than the current job seeker support rates the same comments apply as for the first alternative above.
     
  • As the second figure is just a little higher than the payments suggested for the second alternative there is little additional advantage when compared to the second alternative and the same comments apply as for the second alternative above.
     
  • Again, care must be taken to ensure that those with special needs who currently receive more than the Basic Income payment will continue to receive the same higher incomes.
     
  • If the payment rate is indexed with inflation to maintain its value the annual payment will cease to be a nice round figure defeating any advantage there might be to having a nice round figure.
     
  • If the payment rate is not indexed with inflation the value of the Basic Income payments will be eroded over time.
4.  Fourth alternative - higher payment rates
 
  • BINZ does not recommend higher levels of payment than those indicated in the first three alternatives for the initial introduction of a  Basic Income.
     
  • Higher payment rates have been suggested by some advocates who consider that they are sustainable but the following points should be noted.
     
  • While alternatives one to three may be paid for with little change to present taxation rates, payments higher than suggested in the first three alternatives will require additional taxation. This will not necessarily lead to a loss of total after-tax income as the increase in tax will be offset by the Basic Income payments.  
     
  • While most people will work to increase their incomes above the levels received from a modest  Basic Income, it has been suggested, but not proven, that when the level of a Basic Income is set higher than the levels suggested in the first three alternatives, that the number of people who decide not to work may increase as the Basic Income level increases.
     
  • Trials indicate that modest Basic Income payments do not result in increases in those opting not to work. However, trials have not been done with larger Basic Income payments to see if there is a threshold above which people will progressively decide not to work. If there is a threshold, it is likely to vary from person to person. Note that most people with high incomes now continue to work.
     
  • If the Basic Income level is greater than current jobseeker support rates, those with special needs may feel that the extra payment level they receive for their special needs has been eroded and ask for their payments to be increased.
     
5.  Fifth alternative - Basic Income is paid as an addition to existing welfare payments
 
  • BINZ does not recommend paying a Basic Income as an additional payment to be added to all existing welfare payments. This is known as an "add on scheme".
     
  • A Basic Income is intended to replace and eliminate a substantial portion of the existing welfare system, Failure to replace this portion of the present welfare payments will significantly add to the total cost of a Basic Income scheme.
     
  • To keep such an add on scheme affordable, Basic Income payments must be kept very low and the many advantages of a Basic Income will be either reduced or eliminated.
     
  • If the payments are set at a reasonable level the overall cost will be very high whilst the many problems and costs associated with the existing welfare system remain.
Does Basic Income make work pay?

 

Yes, with a Basic Income people will retain sufficient income from working to make working worthwhile.
 
  • The present welfare system with very high abatement rates results in people receiving very little or no additional income or other advantages from working part-time or full time on low incomes. This creates a poverty trap.
     
  • With a Basic Income, people will receive sufficient additional income after tax to make working worthwhile.
     
  • There has long been a debate in New Zealand about what level of income should be given out to people receiving income support. Many people worry that if the level of income support is too high then there would be less incentive for people to look for work, or to stay in their current jobs. On the other hand many recognise everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and their families including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond their control as set out in Article 25 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Will people keep working if they receive a Basic Income?

Yes. Most people want to work and earn income.
 
  • With a Basic Income, people will keep most of the money they earn when they work so this encourages them to work.
     
  • In contrast, the existing income support system discourages people on jobseeker support from seeking work by abating their support payments, both the jobseeker support and the accommodation supplement, at such a high rate that they often end up with less income than if they stayed home. When they work they will also incur extra transport, clothing and other costs. As a consequence, some people actively avoid work.
     
  • Because Basic Income stimulates local economies, it creates more employment opportunities in low-income and regional areas.
     
  • Basic income trials around the world show that almost everyone chooses to work if they can, and the few who do not tend to be mothers choosing to stay at home to look after young children and students who choose to stay longer at school or go on to higher education.
     
  • While a few people, such as mothers of young children and students may leave work it creates vacancies and job opportunities that are taken up by others who want to work so the impact of these people leaving work on total employment tends to be neutral.
     
  • Overall, Basic Income boosts employment rates as it eliminates poverty traps and encourages people to take up employment, and stimulates local economies creating more employment opportunities. 

What impact will Basic Income have on tax evasion and avoidance?

With a Basic Income, people move into legitimate paid employment and out of the cash economy.
 
  • The poverty traps created by the high abatement rates of the existing welfare system result in people actively avoiding regular work and then seeking to enhance their incomes with cash jobs that they do not report.
     
  • With a Basic Income, people will receive a large enough positive return from regular employment to encourage them to take up employment and move away from the unreported cash economy.

What impact will Basic Income have on crime?

Basic Income trials in various countries have always shown significant reductions in crime rates
 
  • The poverty traps created by the high abatement rates of the existing welfare system result in people actively avoiding regular paid employment and turning to crime to enhance their incomes. 
     
  • With a Basic Income, people will receive a positive return for working so take up employment and move away from crime.

Will prisoners receive Basic Income?

A Basic Income is allocated to all citizens and eligible residents regardless of other tests
 
  • However, because of the high cost of imprisonment, some Basic Income advocates suggest that governments may either:
     
    • charge prisoners for their food and lodgings as the Basic Income gives prisoners an income or,
    • deduct the Basic Income from those in prison to partially offset the cost of their imprisonment.
       
  • An alternative suggestion is that the Basic Income is deducted to pay for any extra welfare costs incurred by members of the prisoners family that result from their imprisonment.
     
  • Note that a discrepancy exists at present: while a loss of liberty causes most prisoners to lose any opportunity to earn an income, some wealthy prisoners continue to earn high incomes from interest, dividends or other sources while in prison and could well afford to pay the cost of their imprisonment.

What impact will Basic Income have on profitability? 

Basic Income increases profitability.
 
  • A Basic Income ensures that people living in low income and regional areas have money to spend.
     
  • This stimulates local business activity in these areas and increases the profitability of local firms.
     
  • The general increase in economic activity tends to increase the profitability of all firms. 

What impact will Basic Income have on productivity? 

A Basic Income has a positive overall impact on national productivity.
 
  • Because a Basic Income simplifies the welfare system it will increase the productivity of Work and Income New Zealand and lower administrative costs.
     
  • Individual firms may see some improvement in productivity as a Basic Income promotes a more flexible labour market by assisting people in finding employment where they can be most productive.
     
  • A Basic Income will assist the economies of low-income areas and regional areas leading to more employment and greater profitability of firms in these areas.
     
  • This will increase national productivity by increasing overall national employment. 

Will other government services be retained? 

Yes, with a Basic Income other government services will be retained.
 
  • While a Basic Income is intended to replace all benefit payments of equal or less value and partially replace those of higher value,
     
  • it is essential that all other government services such as hospital and other government-supported medical services, free education, and support for other government services, are retained at present or greater levels to ensure that people receive the full benefits of a Basic Income and are not disadvantaged by the introduction of a Basic Income.

Will the minimum wage and living wage be maintained? 

Yes. With a Basic Income, it is essential that the minimum wage is maintained at current or greater levels while the living wage will continue and be adjusted as necessary.
  • The minimum wage is set by the government and increased annually with inflation.
     
  • It is essential that the minimum wage is retained at current or greater levels and adjusted annually with inflation to achieve the full benefit of a Basic Income.
     
  • The payment of a Basic Income is not a justification for unscrupulous employers to cut wages and doing so will have an adverse impact on the economy.
     
  • People need to have money to spend money and taking money away from those with low incomes by reducing or lowering the minimum wage reduces expenditure and the profits of firms.
     
  • The living wage is a non-government figure considered the minimum required for a minimal standard of living. This figure will continue to be adjusted as living costs change. 
What is Negative Income Tax and how does it differ from Basic Income?

A negative income tax is a welfare system that uses income tax where people who earn below a certain amount receive supplemental money from the government instead of paying taxes to the government.
 
  • For any particular Basic Income scheme, it is possible to design a negative income tax scheme that achieves the same results.
     
  • However, a negative income tax scheme requires complex ongoing calculations to determine the size of the payout that may vary from week to week. Consequently, a negative income tax scheme is difficult and expensive to administer.
     
  • In contrast, the difficulties and costs associated with a Basic Income scheme are negligible. 
Could the same results be achieved by lowering abatement rates?

It is possible to achieve a net to gross income profile with the current welfare system that closely emulates a Basic Income scheme by significantly lowering welfare abatement rates and eliminating the threshold where the abatements begin.
 
  • For such a scheme the abatement rate plus the tax rate must add to give the same rate as the uniform tax rate used with the Basic Income scheme. This is the Effective Marginal Tax (EMT) rate.
     
  • However, such a scheme will require all the complex and ongoing calculations of the present welfare scheme to determine the size of the payout that may vary from week to week. Consequently, such a scheme is difficult and expensive to administer.
     
  • In contrast, the difficulties and costs associated with a Basic Income scheme are negligible. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

How will a Basic Income stabilise the economy? 

Paying a Basic Income stabilises an economy reducing the magnitude of boom-bust cycles allowing an economy to become more productive and more profitable and increasing general wellbeing.

  • Without a Basic Income, a small decline in economic activity will reduce government tax income and lead to calls for the government to reduce expenditure.
     
  • Reducing government expenditure leads to less income for members of the community who will of necessity reduce their expenditure.
     
  • Less expenditure by the public results in less Goods and Services Tax (GST) collected by the government and less income from income and profit taxes.
     
  • Reduced government income leads to further calls to reduce government expenditure.
     
  • The economic system is thus unstable and a small decline in economic activity is exacerbated by reductions in government expenditure.
     
  • With a Basic Income, during an economic downturn, the government continues to pay the Basic Income at a fixed rate using accumulated funds or borrowed money and government incomes will be maintained at a higher rate. When the economy recovers the government continues to tax and reduces debt. The system becomes more stable.
     
  • With a more stable economic system, economies do better, firms maintain or increase their profitability, productivity is enhanced, real wages rise, and overall wellbeing increases.

What is the velocity of money and why is it important? 
 
Government income largely comes from taxation on the movement of money, such as GST, income tax, and profit tax. The faster money moves the higher government annual revenue allowing governments to spend more each year. Basic Income enhances the velocity of money.
 
  • When people spend money the government collects a percentage as GST. The money received by firms is used to pay wages, buy new stock, distribute dividends, and reinvest in the company. The government collects income taxes from firms employees and taxes profits and dividend income. Those that receive wages will spend the money they receive to buy more food and other goods. Hence, the money not collected in tax continues to circulate. The money the government collects in taxes is available for the government to spend immediately.
     
  • The velocity of money measures how many times money circulates in a year. Each time it circulates the government takes a portion of the money in tax. Consequently, the faster the money circulates, the higher the annual government revenue will be, and the higher government revenue is the more money the government can spend each year.
     
  • When people on lower incomes receive additional money they tend to spend it rapidly on necessities such as food.
     
  • When those on higher incomes receive additional money they tend to accumulate it by putting it in the bank or spend the money outside the country on overseas travel. Putting the money in the bank or spending the money on overseas travel both slow the circulation of money and reduce government annual tax revenue. Only a small proportion of money received by those on high incomes is spent on job-creating investment. 
     
  • Consequently, as a Basic Income enhances the incomes of those on lower incomes a higher overall velocity of money occurs and government revenue is enhanced allowing the government to spend more.
     
  • Conversely, when those on the highest incomes receive a greater proportion of income the velocity of money slows and government revenue falls leaving the government with less money to spend.

Will artificial intelligence and other changes to work make Basic Income inevitable?

There is no doubt that work will continue to change in the future.
 
  • In the past, there have often been concerns that large scale unemployment would occur each time changes have been introduced such as the first introduction of machines, the automation of machines, and the introduction of computers.
     
  • Over time the reality has always always been significantly different with each major change seeing work opportunities increasing to absorb the labour released by each of the changes, and each of the changes has led to overall increases in productivity, living standards, wellbeing, and to overall improvements in work conditions.
     
  • The difficulties have, however, been for those who have been displaced from a job they have trained for and the need for these people to sustain themselves and their families while they retrain and find new work.
    • In some cases, people need to relocate to find work and some people never find employment again.
    • Some individuals and families can be hurt really hard by the changes due to no fault of their own.
       
  • We can expect the same to occur with the increased use of artificial intelligence in the future. People will be displaced and must find new employment. 
     
  • A Basic Income will help support people during the period from when they are displaced from one field of employment to when they find new employment and help sustain those who may not be able to find new employment.
     
  • It remains to be seen if further deployment of artificial intelligence will cause large scale unemployment as some predict, but if it does, Basic Income will be an essential means of ensuring the wellbeing of displaced people and to prevent any economic downturn that rapidly rising unemployment may trigger.
     
  • Basic Income will stimulate demand for services and help to counter any increases in unemployment.

What about trickle-up and trickle-down?

Money tends to trickle up more than it trickles down. The trickle-down theory is a myth.
 

  • Economic records over long periods of time show that more money trickles up than trickles down
     
    • The wealthy gradually get wealthier - over time more wealth is owned by fewer and fewer people.
       
  • This happens because when money is invested the owners of the capital retain the full value of their assets while expecting positive returns on their investments.
     
  • A positive return is required to ensure that the investments take place.
     
  • Reversals of this trend only occur when there are major economic failures and depressions or war and revolutions. 
     
  • To counter the net trickle-up and prevent abject poverty governments must gather taxation and ensure that those on lower incomes have sufficient income to spend on necessities. 
     
  • A Basic Income is an excellent way of achieving this objective along with other government services such as free education, free hospital care, and other government services. 

What is the difference between a "Basic Income" and a "Universal Basic Income"? 

  • The concept of a Basic Income existed before people began to talk about a Universal Basic Income or "UBI". The word universal was added to emphasise that the Basic Income was to be paid to all.
     
  • Unfortunately, the extra word led to some confusion. With the use of the abbreviation "UBI", some wondered if it meant an "unconditional" or a "universal" Basic Income, or both.
     
  • Others took "UBI" to mean that the same level of Basic Income must be paid to all regardless of age or need and that it would be the only payment people received. This is an error as a Basic Income was never intended to result in cuts in income to those with high needs. The intention was that there would be a universal payment paid to all and that this would be made up with additional payments for those with special needs to at least current payment levels.
     
    • If UBI meant the same payment for all with no additional payments to make the benefits up to present levels, and if the UBI payment was set at the level of jobseeker support, all people on higher benefits or payments at present than jobseeker support, such as those with special needs, on sole parent support, and those receiving superannuation, would have their payments cut to the universal level.
    • This was not the intent of those who first used the term UBI.
    • To introduce cuts to the level of jobseeker support will result in real hardship and poverty for many people.
    • Nevertheless, the proposal to cut all payments to a lower universal level was lauded by those who supported it as a way of cutting total welfare expenditure!
    • Others have argued that a UBI should be set near the maximum payment rates to avoid the need to cut payment rates for those already on higher benefits. Again this was not the intention of a those who first suggested using "Universal Basic Income", but some opponents of Basic Income have used this to suggest that the need for a high level of UBI payment for some would necessitate the same payment being paid to all and that this would make a UBI unaffordable!
    • If a higher UBI payment was paid it will be seen as unjust by those who are receiving justifiably higher payments at present because of need as they will lose their established margin for need.
       
  • BINZ holds that the well established existing payment levels must be maintained when Basic Income is introduced and considers that the use of "Basic Income" rather than "Universal Basic Income" indicates greater flexibility, that different rates may be paid with age and that additional payments may be appropriate when there is need.
 

What will happen to New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran's pensions?

 

New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran's pensions will be retained.
 
  • A Basic Income for people of working age will not replace New Zealand Superannuation (NZS).
     
  • New Zealand Superannuation is a very efficient Basic Income scheme with almost zero administration costs.
     
  • With the introduction of a Basic Income for those of working age, those over 65 will not be eligible for both the working-age Basic Income payment and the New Zealand Superannuation.​ 
     
  • New Zealand Superannuation (NZS) is a series of Basic Income payments available to those over 65 with different payment rates that include different rates for married (each), single (sharing), and single (living alone). 
     
  • The value of NZS payments is higher than that envisaged for a Basic Income payment for a person of working age. 
     
  • New Zealand Superannuation is not compulsory. You must apply for NZS before you receive it. When you sign up for NZS it will replace your working-age Basic Income which will cease.

Is BINZ aligned with any political parties?

 

Basic Income New Zealand is not aligned with any political parties.

  • BINZ is a non-partisan organisation.
  • This is because the Basic Income concept can be applied across the political spectrum.
  • The level and design of the Basic Income will be decided by our Government in consultation with the public at large.
  • We encourage all political parties to adopt Basic Income as a policy.

What links does BINZ have with other organisations?

 
BINZ is affiliated to Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN).
  • BINZ will work with groups and individuals promoting Basic Income but will maintain full independence at all times.

Does BINZ support any specific proposals for a New Zealand Basic Income?

 
It is BINZ policy not to endorse specific Basic Income proposals.
  • It is our policy, however, to publicise as many proposals as possible in order to widen the debate.
  • We may also critique proposals, and we encourage people and organisations with a stake in the Basic Income to do so as well
  • We reserve the right not to publicise proposals that do not fit our guidelines for a productive proposal.

What other organisations in New Zealand have promoted Basic Income?

 
Past and present organisations include:
  • UBINZ (Universal Basic Income New Zealand).
  • ANZIUB (Aotearoa New Zealand Initiative for an Unconditional Basic Income).
  • UITANZ (Universal  Income Trust of Aotearoa  NZ).

Who in New Zealand has been researching or commenting on Basic Income?

 
  • Perce Harpham: Perce is the author of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) proposal. Visit Perce's website for more information.
  • Iain Middleton is a founding member of BINZ and a member of the steering committee. He has written articles and presented papers on Basic Income and has developed a Basic Income calculator for New Zealand use that will model most Basic Income proposals and show the impact on the incomes of individuals when a Basic Income is implemented.
  • Susan St John: Susan has investigated the impact of changing New Zealand Superannuation to a Basic Income scheme.
  • Mike Goldsmith: "The case for universal basic income in New Zealand & worldwide."
  • Keith Rankin: Keith is a long-standing commentator on Basic Income and UBI. Visit his website and read "Revisiting the UBI: Rival Views of Universal Basic Income or his papers on UBI". Keith wrote a chapter in Murray and Pateman's book on BI Worldwide in 2012.
  • Prue Hyman: Prue is a BINZ member and a longtime commentator on the UBI. See her articles "Universal Basic Income", "The UBI Alternative, and Universal Basic Income: What other Systems, Policies and Attitude Changes are needed in a UBI Structure?"
  • Lowell Manning: Lowell, a former member of the BINZ steering committee, is the author of a low-cost Universal Basic Income (UBI) article, "Guaranteed Minimum Income For NZ".
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