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What would a “tax working group” look like under a coalition government?

If Winston Peters decides to team up with Labour and the Greens to form a coalition government, the establishment of a  tax working group remains a distinct possibility. Terry Baucher* discusses what the agenda for a tax working group might look like. 

I believe the terms of reference for any tax working group should include:

  • reviewing the under-taxation of capital and the over-taxation of savings;
  • the interaction of tax and social assistance such as working for families’ tax credits and the issue of high effective marginal tax rates;
  • the taxation of multinationals; and
  • the role of “environmental” taxes such as the Green Party’s mooted Carbon Tax and the Labour Party’s controversial Water Tax.

 

Coincidentally, these topics are similar to those covered by the terms of reference of the McLeod Review in 2001. Its terms of reference Read more

Supreme Court: disclosure denied to beneficiary in billion-dollar Erceg case

The Supreme Court has dismissed Ivan Erceg’s appeal, refusing his application for an order to disclose trust documents.

Background

The case is the culmination of a long-standing family feud involving two trusts set up by Michael Erceg, a wealthy businessman who died 10 years ago in a helicopter accident. Ivan Erceg, the brother of the deceased, was a beneficiary of both trusts, but received nothing when the trusts were wound up in 2010. Analysts had put the value of the trusts at $1.2 billion in 2006. Read more

IRD chalks up another win: Supreme Court rejects Trustpower’s appeal

The deductibility of feasibility expenditure on capital projects got knocked back by the Supreme Court in its decision released today (27/07/16). The court said:

“ On a purist view of the capital/revenue distinction, any expenditure (feasibility in nature or otherwise) addressed to a capital project … is necessarily on capital account. On this approach – which has been espoused by Professor John Prebble QC and Hamish McIntosh – the feasibility expenditure in issue was necessarily not deductible.

The approach which we adopt is broadly similar to that proposed by Professor Prebble and Mr McIntosh but, for reasons which we explain, allows for some flexibility, for instance, in respect of initial stages of feasibility work … [W]e consider that some feasibility expenditure referable to proposed capital projects might sometimes be deducted. We do not, however, see such deductibility as extending to external costs incurred in respects which do, or were intended to, materially advance the capital project in question.”

  Read more

Government response to Shewan inquiry: she’s all go!

A new tax bill in August will see the government adopting all of the key recommendations made in the Shewan Inquiry on foreign trusts. Expect to see these initiatives in the draft legislation:

  • information on foreign trusts to be maintained in a register overseen by Inland Revenue
  • foreign trusts to file an annual tax return
  • disclosure of tax information and personal information about the settlors, non-resident trustees and classes of beneficiaries
  • exemption on foreign source income removed if registration and disclosure obligations not met
  • new registration fee ($270) and annual filing fees ($50) to apply to foreign trusts.

Increased Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements for lawyers and accountants are also signalled with effect from 2017.

Read the full summary of the government’s response here.

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NZ’s foreign trust regime: John Shewan’s report in a nutshell

The Government Inquiry into Foreign Trust Disclosure Rules was released yesterday (Monday 27 June). In a nutshell, John Shewan’s report concluded that the current disclosure requirements were “light handed” and reasonably likely to be facilitating the hiding of funds or evasion of tax in some instances. Against this backdrop, governments around the world have a legitimate expectation that the New Zealand government will step in and take action to change the rules.

Read more

IRD confirms: no appeal pending on Diamond residency case

The IRD has confirmed it will not be appealing the recent Court of Appeal decision in C of IR v Diamond [2015] NZCA 613.

This is good news for taxpayers (and their advisers) as it provides a degree of clarity and certainty to the law on residency.

The Court of Appeal decision – which was a win for the taxpayer – explicitly rejected the notion that having a rental property “available” to the overseas-based taxpayer was sufficient to amount to having a permanent place of abode in New Zealand.

The Court also concluded by saying that the fact that a taxpayer provides a home for his family in New Zealand while living overseas would not necessarily be sufficient to establish that the taxpayer had a permanent place of abode in New Zealand.

Refer to James Coleman’s blog to read the background facts to the Diamond case.

Strike two! Taxpayer wins in Court of Appeal tax residency case

Just before Christmas, the Court of Appeal released its decision in the Diamond case:  Commissioner of Inland Revenue v Diamond [2015] NZCA 613. The result – which was a win for the taxpayer – once again strikes down the Inland Revenue’s interpretation of what is meant by a “permanent place of abode”. (Refer to James Coleman’s blog for a quick précis of the background facts to Diamond).

The Court of Appeal explicitly rejected the Commissioner’s argument that having a rental property “available” to the taxpayer was sufficient to amount to having a permanent place of abode in New Zealand. The Commissioner’s argument in court aligns with the position taken by Inland Revenue in Interpretation Statement IS 14/01.

Read more

Tax residency: Diamond case going to Court of Appeal

Most tax professionals will be aware of the Diamond case (Diamond v Commissioner of Inland Revenue (2014) 26 NZTC 21,093). It is the first High Court judgment on personal tax residency in New Zealand after the 1980 law change. It therefore affects all New Zealanders who move abroad.

The High Court had to rule on the question of whether a rental property owned and rented out by Mr Diamond (the taxpayer) could be considered his permanent place of abode in New Zealand. Clifford J stated that to have a permanent place of abode in New Zealand means to have a home in New Zealand with a sufficient degree of permanence. Read more

…and so the JG Russell case has finally come to an end…or has it?

Inland Revenue has won a $367m judgement against 79 year old accountant, JG Russell for an unpaid tax debt. Even though the case has been won by Inland Revenue, it is unlikely that Inland Revenue will actually recover the money. One has to then ask, was this really a case about the money, or principle? Read more

Tax relief proposed for community housing

The Government has announced that it will introduce legislation to Parliament to provide that assisting low-income families into home ownership will be exempt from income tax.

The law change is considered necessary after the Charities Commission (the functions of which have been taken over by the Department of Internal Affairs – Charities) decided that assisting people into home ownership was not always charitable. These decisions, which have been confirmed by the High Court have resulted in a charitable trust being deregistered (Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust) another having its registration re-instated (Liberty Trust); and have left a number of trusts uncertain about their tax status or facing unexpected tax liabilities.

Read more

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