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Farmers, Politics and Accounting: The History of Standard Values - An Accounting Convenience or Political Arithmetic

Jill Hooks, Massey University - Albany, NZ
Ross E Stewart, Seattle Pacific University

ABSTRACT: This research seeks to study accounting in the social, political and organisational context within which it operates. Specifically the farming sector in New Zealand provides the context for studying the history of standard value accounting. This accounting practice emerged with the support of the state, accountants and farmers. It emerged as the tax regime in New Zealand slowly moved to an income tax for farmers from 1915 onwards. The paper examines how this accounting practice became a practice of political arithmetic mediating the power of the farmers economically with the rest of the tax base in New Zealand. Standard value accounting for livestock became a device that represented the power of the farmers to receive favourable tax treatment while at the same time they wanted to be seen as carrying their fair share of the country’s tax burden.

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