The position of New Zealand as a Tax Haven
There have been news articles that have been claiming that recent events point towards the possibility of New Zealand slowly becoming a tax haven. While the concerns being raised about the recent news that have led to the allegations seem legitimate, stating that the country is becoming a tax haven is taking things a little bit too far. At least that is what Geoff Cone, one of the principal partners at Cone Marshall LLC feels about the matter. Geoff has been working on trusts and estate laws for the past 20 years, which gives him a good understanding of the field.
He states that all signs point towards New Zealand being the exact opposite of a tax haven. For instance, he states that the OECD which is the international gold standard for responsible tax reporting, has already white listed New Zealand as one of the most transparent countries in tax reporting. For a country to get white listed, they have to have an openness policy about all the trustees and also to be great at opening up communication between the country that the investor is coming from and their country.
To be allowed to become a trust holder in New Zealand has its own requirements. To start with, you will have to register as a foreign trustee and hand over documents such as tax returns to the IRD. Other requirements include having to show statements of income and expenditure, your assets and liabilities and business balance sheets. All these are records that should be kept in English, failure to which you will attract heavy penalties to yourself and at times, even lose your status as a trustee.
Geoff states that countries classified as tax havens have much less stringent measures for their citizens. He states that in these countries, if any taxes are levied on trustees, they are only nominal. He also maintains that the countries do their best to limit the communication that exists between the countries and they also have a mysterious private investment banking sector, all conditions that New Zealand does not meet. In simple terms, NZ is not a tax haven, as a matter of fact, it is the opposite of one.
About Geoff Cone
Geoff graduated from the University of Otago with a bachelor’s degree in law. He practiced law as a litigator for many years before he came back home and started his own firm in 1999. In 2005, he was joined by Karen Marshall, who had been working as a lawyer in London and in 2006, Karen became a principal partner. The law firm deals with estates and trust laws and has been involved in some of the most high profile cases in the country. Geoff is also a family man and a philanthropist