- EY Worldwide Transfer Pricing Reference Guide - New Zealand - EY - Global
- How we address tax crime
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In the words of the Prime Minister, we will not throw the baby out with the bathwater. As the Working Group has said, the Government is not bound to accept all the recommendations it put forward.
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Both Ministers said it was highly unlikely all recommendations will need to be implemented. We also set out some clear bottom lines. Mr Nash also confirmed that tax reform initiatives separate to the work of the TWG will continue in the meantime. These deficiencies are being acted on through our existing programme of reform. For example, Abracadabra Ltd would have been obliged to disclose that it was the trustee of a trust called the Abracadabra trust — but it was not obliged to disclose who the settlor was, what country he lived in, who the beneficiaries were, what countries they lived in, what assets were owned by the trust, how much income they produced, or to whom it was distributed.
Moreover, the disclosure requirement was generally a one-off obligation: once the trustee had made its initial disclosure to the IRD, there was no requirement for annual reporting or any other subsequent reporting. Foreign trusts seldom if ever derived income from New Zealand; as they are exempt from New Zealand tax on income derived from outside New Zealand, they are seldom, if ever, obliged to file a NZ tax return.
EY Worldwide Transfer Pricing Reference Guide - New Zealand - EY - Global
Since mid, however, information as to a small number of these trusts has come into the public domain. The Panama Papers revealed that the foreigners setting up trusts in New Zealand included a prominent Maltese politician Konrad Mizzi, the energy minister and a Mexican construction tycoon Juan Armando Hinojosa.
The most instructive instance, however, is that of Jho Low, a year old Malaysian playboy billionaire. Low and his family consulted the Rothschild bank, which had set up several trusts for them in New Zealand. As of December , there were about 11, foreign trusts in New Zealand.
Shewan recommended that the IRD should maintain a register of foreign trusts; that foreign trusts should be required to register; and that the disclosure requirements should be beefed up. In accordance with section 59C of the Tax Administration Act , the deadline for existing foreign trusts to register and to comply with the beefed up disclosure rules was 30 June When the 30 June deadline expired, fewer than 3, of the NZ foreign trusts had registered.
The other 9, or so had presumably either been wound up or moved to friendlier jurisdictions, such as Hong Kong.
How we address tax crime
It seems reasonable to suppose that the trust deed would usually provide for the appointment of a new trustee in this way. It would seem reasonable to infer that the 3, trusts that have registered are not being used to avoid or evade tax in any other country, or to conceal the proceeds of crime — though they might be being used for other dubious or unlawful purposes, such as concealing assets from a spouse, creditors, or other claimants. It also seems reasonable to infer, however, that at least some of the other 9, trusts that have not registered were being used for tax avoidance or evasion, or perhaps concealing the proceeds of crime.
That is, foreigners are no longer able to use trusts established in New Zealand to avoid or evade the tax they would otherwise have to pay in their home jurisdiction — or, at least, it is much harder for them to do so. The New Zealand government can hold its head up high and maintain plausibly that the country is no longer a tax haven at least as far as foreign trusts are concerned.
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On the other hand, the government is effectively on notice that it seems likely that, in the period from to , several thousand foreigners established trusts in New Zealand for some illicit purpose. Whether it will do anything about those trusts or the people behind them remains to be seen. International taxation.
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He is an authority on New Zealand tax law, Hong Kong tax law, tax policy and tax history. Even a simple spreadsheet is better than no records and can work just as well.
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