When the ballpoint pen was first invented, did our politicians contemplate a perk tax for pens?
Some of the first ballpoint pens sold for US$9.75 in New York City in 1945.
That's equivalent to US$125 ($152) in 2013.
The ballpoint pen was technology that changed the world, used in art, education and in business.
Millions have been made and sold since then.
Pens aren't only used for writing, they are used for promotion and marketing with some of the most expensive pens costing $43,000, some of the cheaper ones worth 50 cents.
But this isn't a column about pens.
I've been looking for the existence of a tax or the notion that there should have been a tax on the business owner's pen which may have been used to write a personal birthday card, a weekly shopping list, doodle, or write a message to a friend.
I also wonder how that tax calculation might occur. Whether I'd have to measure the amount of ink used personally. You could call the tax a pen-alty tax.
Seems ridiculous doesn't it?
Yet, we are faced with an indication that the use of a tablet computer or smartphone should be subject to perk tax. Why?
From the IRD's point of view, technology and the subsequent private use of it are seen as a supplement to a person's income - and income should be taxed. That tax will be paid by employers, potentially adding costs of 33 per cent.
Given all the other perk taxes coming into effect it feels like someone's trying to prove a point. It's a low blow to the small business trying to improve its efficiency.
Employers simply won't look into providing employees with laptops and smart tech because they feel like they're paying too much tax already.
And how would they police it?
Time and costs to implement and enforce this type of policy, as well as costs to business to monitor private use are a waste of time. Especially as tech capital costs will decrease and data will become cheaper and faster.
Encouraging businesses to use technology sounds like a better option.
Encouraging employees to work from home steps up the level of service a business can offer. Maybe we should be taxing the pen users of today and offering tax breaks to tech users.
Increasing productivity and efficiency, reducing paper waste and allowing businesses to make more profit will see our country benefit and the IRD benefit in the long term.