Geoffrey Cone, one of the most prominent lawyers and accountants in New Zealand, is appalled at recent media reports alluding to the country as a hideout for tax evaders. He lashes out at the recklessness of the press when it portrays the country as an exotic land where the wealthy engage in shady financial deals. He hastens to mention that the tax situation in the nation is diametrically different from the media reports.
Cone goes into detail to explain why New Zealand has never – and will never – be a tax haven. First, he points out the fact that the OECD keeps a list of tax havens and updates it as often as necessary. New Zealand has never featured on this list. In fact, he adds, the OECD has placed the nation on a white list, a sure sign of confidence in the country’s stable financial system.
There is no way New Zealand can tolerate tax evasion and other financial malpractices within its borders considering the ardent measures the country has taken to ensure transparency. It handles foreign trusts and trustees in such a manner that information would be available to other governments upon request. Other countries can, therefore, obtain any information they may need if they suspect any wrong-doing.
Also, the country espouses the use of English, the official language in many countries, to keep and maintain records of all foreign trusts and their related transactions in the country. Failure to adhere to this regulation attracts dire consequences and gross penalties. The state enacted this rule in 2011 and is in line with the global standard money laundering legislation.
Moreover, Cone explains that New Zealand has adopted a total of 39 double tax agreements to reduce tax-related bottlenecks in international trade. These agreements make it possible to prevent tax avoid tax evasion and avoidance. Another 20 tax information exchange agreements are in place to enhance transparency.
With such stringent measures in place, it is impossible to put New Zealand in the same bracket as tax havens. There is nothing in the country’s management and procedures that would point to international financial impropriety.
Geoffrey Cone is an accomplished lawyer and accountant running a law firm, Cone Marshall Ltd. The law firm specializes in offering financial advice to international families wishing to invest their trusts in New Zealand. He established the law in 1999 in Auckland, New Zealand, and has been in operation since then.