New Zealand is a Tax Transparency Model

In the recent past there has been a number of media coverage on the foreign trusts of New Zealand that portrayed the country like a sexy thriller of wealthy people, exotic lands and intricate financial deals. However, the truth in as much as tax is concerned is a bit mundane. Geoffrey Cone, a lawyer, responded to the foreign trusts feature carried on the previous week. Geoff stated that it is important to first of all confront the huge elephant in the room: whether New Zealand is a tax haven. The simple answer is that it is not. There is a list of the various tax havens in the world maintained by the OECD and New Zealand has never featured on it and has slim chances of ever featuring in it.
Tax heavens have distinct characteristics whereby they only impose zero or only the nominal taxes. They also lack transparency and their procedures or laws inhibit exchanging of information with the other governments. New Zealand does not qualify for all the above grounds and it does not have a high secretive private banking industry. There is a gold standard of transparency referred to as the 2002 OECD Model Agreement on the Exchange of Information to do with tax matters. It supports the exchange of information internationally to enforce or administer domestic tax laws. New Zealand appears on the white list of OECD for been among the first countries to implement the international tax standard.
The way New Zealand handles the foreign trusts and all the requirements meted on the trustees is a demonstration of its leadership. They all go towards helping other governments get the relevant information they request for. There were some new rules introduced to govern this area by Michael Cullen back in 2006 after broad consultations. Under the rules, a resident of New Zealand foreign trust trustee ought to submit to the IRD a Foreign Trust Disclosure form (IR607).
About Geoffrey Cone
Geoffrey Cone is a graduate of the University of Otago in New Zealand. He graduated with an LLB (honors) and a post graduate diploma (tax and trust Law). He started practicing in the year 1980 in Auckland, NZ before moving to Christchurch. It was here that he became a partner and Chairman of Partners in a top law firm. Cone was involved in commercial litigation and tax and trust advisory. He attended courts in all levels that included the Privy Council as the lead counsel. Having worked as a litigator for about two years in the British West Indies, he returned to Auckland in 1997 to practice there and opened his own law firm in 1999. Geoffrey Cone’s firm, Cone Marshall Limited, is the only law firm in New Zealand that specializes utterly in International trust and tax planning. It offers trust and trustee management services through several affiliated companies.

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