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Country Rankings - New Zealand


  • Nov 03, 2017   New Zealand: messy

    Another sign of unusual political times was exhibited in New Zealand recently, where a 30-something governmental novice called Jacinda Ardern became Prime Minister. It always used to be said that you know you're getting old when you notice how police officers seem to be getting younger. Perhaps that adage should be changed. Now, a sign of age is to realize how much younger than you the Prime Minister or President is. Never mind Emmanuel Macron, the incoming Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz (31) makes Canada's Justin Trudeau look over the hill. At this rate, senior office will be barred to anyone over the age of 40. Not that there's something inherently wrong with relatively youthful leaders. Indeed, haven't many of us been complaining about political elites dominated by crusty old men with stale policies? What's more, the phenomenon isn't anything new. Alexander the Great was in his mid-20s while rampaging around the world, while in Great Britain, William Pitt the Younger became Prime Minister at the tender of age of 24, in the late 18th century – arguably one of the most crucial points in British history. However, the current political situation in New Zealand is largely unprecedented. We have the country's youngest ever leader, and what appears to be an unholy alliance of a coalition between the social democratic Labour Party and the nationalist New Zealand First party. They then need support from the Green Party to pass bills. What this means for tax in New Zealand isn't immediately clear. The coalition agreement sheds little light on tax policy, hinting that the two parties were unable to resolve their differences in this area. For taxpayers, deadlock on the issue of tax could be a blessing in disguise. Because doing nothing might be preferable to doing something badly, as in New Zealand there is much at stake. When one thinks of the most dynamic, open, and business-friendly economies in the world, places like Hong Kong and Singapore are probably top of most people's lists, with New Zealand likely to be some way back. But that is to underestimate New Zealand's competitiveness. New Zealand currently sits atop of the World Bank's Doing Business Index, a league table in which it has never dropped lower than third over the last decade. The country is also a creditable 11th place in PwC's Paying Taxes Index, 13th in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index, and 3rd in the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom. In other words, any further improvements to New Zealand's offering to foreign investors is likely to be hard won. But there is plenty of scope for a novice government to mess things up.
    Source: https://www.tax-news.com/news/Few_Tax_Policy_Hints_From_New_Zealands_New_Govt____75566.html


  • Oct 03, 2017   New Zealand: hanging

    On the subject of nature, human beings have always erred on the side of reducing uncertainty in their lives. But judging by recent voting behavior, people are positively encouraging a bit of chaos. Gone are the days when there was a seemingly binary choice between center-left and center-right, between Democrats or Republicans, Labour or the Tories, Christian Democrats or Social Democrats, Socialists or Les Républicains. Various other political shades have crept in over the last few years, and now the political spectrum is a veritable riot of color. The upshot of all this is that, increasingly, election results are inconclusive. A "hung parliaments" was the result of the United Kingdom election in June, and the recent election in New Zealand. Similarly, the German parliamentary elections produced no overall majority in the Bundestag as well as a politically weakened Chancellor. France has turned its back on the mainstream parties, but is showing signs of regretting the decision. Even the US could be said to have a "hung" Congress, with Republican factions as yet unable to unite over key policies – notably healthcare. While these are exciting times for political commentators, they are something of a nightmare for taxpayers. Governments with clear majorities tend to have clear plans, even if most of the time the plans end up being executed only partially. But unholy alliances between parties of different stripes are often the source of policy paralysis, as the various participants seeks to reconcile what can sometimes be vastly differing positions on various issues, including taxation.
    Source: https://www.tax-news.com/news/Hung_Parliament_Following_New_Zealand_Election____75359.html


  • Sep 13, 2017   New Zealand: uncowed

    On to matters of a more organic nature now, and here's a tester for you: how do you prevent damage to the environment from cows doing what cows do i.e. eat and produce copious amounts of noxious waste? According to the New Zealand Green Party, you tax them. Or rather, you tax the farmer that owns the herd, because cows typically don't respond to tax signals, and they will continue to produce voluminous, climate-changing flatulence and foul the watercourses no matter how much you tax them. Whilst this may be a relatively minor development in the world of taxation, for New Zealand it is a big deal. Dairy farming and associated products account for about one-sixth of its exports. Yet, by all accounts, many farmers, saddled with debt, are struggling to make ends meet. Therefore, this is an issue that needs considering very carefully. Which is why perhaps, to the relief of the agricultural community, the mainstream political parties aren't going down the same route. It also has global relevance, for tension between economic and environmental policy is perhaps the most pressing matter of the age, probably more so than AI. And a consensus has emerged over the last couple of years that says putting a price on pollution is the best way to stop it. This may turn out to prove effective. But the trouble with taxing something out of existence is that you no longer can collect revenue from it. Indeed, as esoteric as taxation seems to most people, it continues to have a major bearing on economic activity. Perhaps more so than it has ever done given the globalized nature of the economy. Tax is included in the basket of factors that companies weigh up when deciding where to invest, and can sometimes be the decisive factor in these decisions. One example is the ship management sector, with a recent survey by EY finding that a country's tax and regulatory environment is top of the list of concerns for around eight-out-of-ten respondents.
    Source: https://www.tax-news.com/news/NZ_Greens_Call_For_New_Eco_Levy_On_Dairy_Farmers____75153.html


  • Oct 31, 2016   New Zealand: the business

    Global competitive rankings, like the latest Doing Business Index from the World Bank, often throw up some surprising results. New Zealand usually performs well in such surveys, but who'd have thought that it is literally the best place in the world to set up and run a company from a regulatory, administrative, and tax point of view – better even than low-tax Singapore, according to Doing Business 2017? Or, perhaps even more startling, that Denmark – yes, high-tax, high-spend Denmark – the object of derision from the right and praise from the left, during the US presidential election campaign, is the fourth best place to operate a firm, exceeding laissez-faire Hong Kong as a business location? Similarly, Sweden's brand of social democracy is often criticized as overbearing and fiscally unsustainable. Yet, Sweden is just behind the United States in ninth place. If these results seem scarcely credible, it is probably because we are looking at them through a tax-focussed lens. And Doing Business shows there are a whole host of other considerations that go into the mix when investors decide where to set up a business. New Zealand's top score is attributable to several non-tax factors, including simple company formation and property registration procedures, hassle-free construction permit processes, strong minority investor protections, and the ease with which credit can be obtained. Sweden also scores quite highly in most of these categories, excelling particularly in the "getting electricity" segment of the index. It doesn't fair as well when it comes to getting credit or paying taxes though. The opposite also holds true; there are countries you'd think would be occupying the top spots in the league table but are only fair-to-middling, like Switzerland. Doing Business tells us that Switzerland's taxes are not overly difficult to comply with, but it's not a great place to start a business in a hurry, or to get credit. Dealing with construction permits is also difficult, and protecting minority shareholders virtually impossible. On the other hand, some of the findings are not so surprising for those who follow international tax developments. For instance, it doesn't come as a huge shock to find France down in 29th place. But, given the index includes 190 jurisdictions, this still isn't a disastrous score. And I'm sure the fact that France finished ahead of Switzerland in the table – two countries with something of tense relationship around tax and banking secrecy rules, as illustrated by the French tax authority's recent request for an unusually large amount of data from UBS – wasn't entirely lost on the French Government. Indeed, we are living in an era where the normal order of things is being shaken up on a regular basis. Think Brexit, Trump versus Clinton, and, perhaps the most unexpected event of all, India passing GST. We can now add to that list Wallonia's entrance onto the world diplomatic stage.
    Source: http://www.tax-news.com/news/Governments_Easing_Tax_And_Regulation_Burdens____72578.html


  • Aug 09, 2016   New Zealand: open

    Meanwhile, the European Union has flatly denied that New Zealand will be placed on a new blacklist of tax havens stemming from its probe into the Panama Papers. But no smoke without fire as the saying goes, and the idea must have come from somewhere. Well, as it turns out, that somewhere was a non-legislative resolution proposed by a member of the European Parliament that New Zealand was worthy of investigation because it made an appearance in the documents leaked from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. And it seems that New Zealand's foreign trusts regime has put the country on the radar of the international transparency campaign. Certainly, if anonymity is top of your list when organizing your financial affairs, you could do a lot worse than make use of a New Zealand foreign trust, which has been one of the most popular vehicles for this purpose for a number of years. But if having trust laws, which by their very definition are designed to break the link between an asset and its owner, was the only criterion for inclusion on a tax haven black list, that list would be very long, and include some surprising names. It's coming to something when a country with a corporate tax rate of 28 percent, which, incidentally, is comfortably higher than the EU average, is accused of being a tax haven. As New Zealand Prime Minister suggested when this storm (in a teacup?) broke, those accusing other nations of failing transparency standards should look closer to home before doing so, especially as New Zealand is legislating to introduce a registry of foreign trusts. New Zealand might not be a low-tax economy, but it is a dynamic and largely pro-business one. The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal places it third on its latest league table of economic freedom, behind only Singapore and Hong Kong, and just ahead of Switzerland. New Zealand fares even better in the World Bank's Doing Business Index, where it is positioned in second place behind Singapore – if you're looking for a place to form a company quickly and cheaply, New Zealand is the place to do it, ranked as it is at number one in the "starting a business" sub-index. I wonder whether this, combined with the Government's recent assertion that few of the OECD's BEPS recommendations require a response from New Zealand because its tax regime is robust enough, has ruffled a few feathers in Europe, which has become the standard bearer for BEPS, and increasingly sclerotic in its approach to economy and tax policy.
    Source: http://www.tax-news.com/news/EU_Says_New_Zealand_Not_In_Tax_Haven_Probe____71860.html


  • Jun 06, 2016   New Zealand: refreshing

    Notably, New Zealand is another country investing heavily in its tax authority, to the tune of more than NZD500m (USD340m). But for a different reason. This infusion of cash is not being used to arm the Inland Revenue Department (IRD). Rather, it is intended to improve the tax system for both taxpayers and the Revenue, a strategy designed to in turn boost compliance rates. I'm sure the IRD has had its fair share of compliance campaigns in the recent past too. And I'm not suggesting that we should let tax evaders off the hook, but a shiver does travel down my spine whenever I hear about governments wielding APN-shaped sticks at their citizens. So New Zealand's approach is somewhat refreshing to hear.
    Source: http://www.tax-news.com/news/New_Zealand_Sets_Out_Tax_Admin_Reform_Plan____71345.html


  • Oct 26, 2015   New Zealand: freer

    I'm not sure how you can come to the conclusion that tax compliance has got 23 percent easier from one year to the next. But apparently it has in New Zealand. Still, this isn't a criticism. If the pain of interacting with the tax man has abated by almost a quarter, this is no bad thing. And I'd like to award at least one encomium this week, so New Zealand gets it. In fact, it might surprise some to learn that New Zealand is a pretty welcoming place for investors altogether, according to the various barometers measuring the tax and business climate in countries around the world. The World Bank says that New Zealand is the easiest place in the world to start a business, with company founders encountering just one procedure and the process taking just half a day on average. This compares with an OECD average of five procedures and a completion time of more than nine days. Indeed, in its Doing Business Index 2015, the World Bank placed New Zealand in second place in terms of overall ease of doing business, just behind Singapore in the league table of 189 jurisdictions. New Zealand has also had a long presence in the upper echelons of the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, and this year it is deemed the third-most free economy in the world, beaten only by Hong Kong and Singapore. Unfortunately, New Zealand still has a little way to go to reach the top of PwC's ease of paying taxes indicator, where it sits 22nd out of 189 jurisdictions. But it's comfortably ahead of Australia in 39th. And if nothing else, getting one over the Aussies will doubtless make many kiwis cheer.
    Source: http://www.tax-news.com/news/NZ_Firms_Say_Tax_Compliance_Getting_Easier____69468.html


  • Sep 01, 2015   New Zealand: considerate

    And so I was pleasantly surprised to read that New Zealand has published a public consultation document on legislative proposals that will ensure that the impact of anti-dumping taxes on consumers will be considered before such a remedy is used. Whether this measure will prove effective at protecting the interest of consumers in New Zealand is another matter. I suspect it probably won't for the simple reason that, ironically, consumers won't be included in the actual consultation – and not by choice. You've got to wonder how many people take an interest in the intricacies of world trade law, and even if they do have some knowledge in this area, how many will actually bother to write in to the Government to express their views? The fact that the minister responsible for this initiative said he's been taking into account the views of farmers and "officials" in the shaping of this policy – not consumers – pretty much confirms this. Nevertheless, I can't disagree with the general thrust of the measure, and therefore an encomium goes New Zealand's way.
    Source: http://www.tax-news.com/news/Consumers_To_Have_A_Say_On_NZ_Dumping_Duties____68979.html


  • Aug 07, 2014   New Zealand: butters up BEPS

    New Zealand usually ranks highly in various indexes measuring economic competitiveness. For example, the Heritage Foundation consistently ranks New Zealand in the top five or six countries in its annual Index of Economic Freedom. The Conservative Government of Prime Minister John Key has generally been doing some good work in the area of tax and regulation under a pro-business agenda and the country is well plugged-in to a network of regional free trade agreements. So I find it somewhat grating that New Zealand is continuing to bang the drum for BEPS when many of the G20 (of which New Zealand isn't a member) seemed to have gone eerily quiet, no doubt realizing the implausibility of the project's aims. The overwhelming majority of New Zealand's business leaders are convinced that the OECD's BEPS Action Plan is going to fail if the results of a recent survey by Grant Thornton are to be believed, yet the Kiwi Government has been one of the most visible in publicly backing it. Perhaps they naïvely believe that there will be a level playing field, but even the OECD's head of tax policy, Pascal Saint-Amans, said recently that a multi-speed response could make matters worse, and it's hard to see at this stage any other result. Sometimes it's better just to stay silent.
    Source: www.tax-news.com/news/New_Zealand_Calls_For_Collective_Action_On_BEPS____65372.html


  • Jun 12, 2014   New Zealand: has principles

    I was complaining last week about the anti-consumer behaviour of the US Department of Commerce (DoC), and it is good to see that New Zealand's Government is sufficiently economically literate to consider a public interest test in cases of proposed anti-dumping duties. This is a step towards my proposal for an international review panel for anti-dumping actions, but I am not silly enough to suppose that any large country will follow New Zealand's example. And the moment that a left-wing administration takes power, they will abolish the test, of course. Let's wish New Zealand fifty more years years of Rogernomics! Meanwhile the appalling DoC is continuing to dig away at the grave of free trade, in the process infuriating its trading partner China.
    Source: www.tax-news.com/news/NZ_Plans_Public_Interest_Test_For_AntiDumping_Duties____64890.html


  • May 22, 2014   New Zealand: steady as she goes

    There is a tale of two countries Down Under this week, with both New Zealand and Australia launching their annual budgets. Both have right-wing governments, but whereas New Zealand is reaping the harvest of four years of sensible, low-key, pro-business taxation policies, turning in annual surpluses as far as the eye can see, Australia's equally pro-business government is left with the bitter stubble of seven years of left-wing Labor rule, and is forced into a tax-raising budget to try to repair some of the damage done to the economy by Labor's spendthrift policies. The Australian Labor Party did occasionally make gestures in the direction of business, but that's all they were – virtually every substantive measure taken by the last government was either populist or overtly negative for the economy. One other important difference between the twin countries, one much bigger than the other, obviously, is that whereas New Zealand has a unicameral Parliament, with no upper house and no competing provincial legislatures (there used to be both, but they were abolished, in the 20th and 19th centuries, respectively), Australia has a real dog's dinner of a legislative constitution, with an upper house (the Senate), elected on a different timescale to the lower house, and with extensive possibilities to change or impede a government's legislative program if it doesn't have a majority in both houses. In addition, the states of the Commonwealth of Australia have significant legislative powers of their own, including over some aspects of taxation. Given the lengths that the framers of the Constitution went to in order to deal with potential stand-offs between the chambers, it's obvious that they were aware of the dangers, so you have to ask yourself why they persisted. Yet they did, and the result is a situation in which an elected majority in the lower house can be completely hamstrung by an antipathetic Senate (does this remind you at all of another large, English-speaking republic?) The constitutional solution prescribed, after the upper house has twice defied the will of the elected parliament, is a "double dissolution," in which both houses are dissolved and new elections take place, and that's what we seem to be heading for now, given that the Senate has dug itself into a position of entrenched enmity to some of the Government's tax proposals. "Checks and balances" are all very well, but this just doesn't seem to be a sensible way to run a country; Australia's current experience seems to bear out the evidence coming from the United States that in modern, over-politicized countries, 19th century legislative contraptions are past their sell-by date, and need root and branch reform. Blame the media, I suppose. One problem (or advantage, depending on your perspective) that Australia doesn't have is a President, since, like New Zealand, it has a (totally powerless) Queen. Canada's constitution, for the record, is closest to that of Australia in legislative terms, but with the crucial difference that the Senate is appointed rather than elected, constructive rather than destructive, you might say.
    Source: www.tax-news.com/news/New_Zealand_Budget_Contains_Handful_Of_Tax_Reforms____64702.html


  • Dec 30, 2013   New Zealand: loves the lovies

    So let's keep looking. New Zealand is increasing the tax credits it gives to movie producers, which will help employment in the media, I suppose, although such people aren't usually the poorest in the community. That's not the reason for doing it of course: they simply have no choice, given that there is a race to the the bottom going on between a large number of countries and US states to attract "runaway" productions with incentives. Presumably the net result in tax terms is to reduce the amount collected; but it would be too Scrooge-like to point out that the Finance Ministry will therefore have to increase taxes to make up for it, so I won't. I will point out though that there are now quite a few business sectors in which corporate taxation is yielding to international competition: the media, as we have seen; intellectual property (with Patent Boxes sprouting all over the place like mushrooms); and the shipping/airline sectors, in which some very high percentage of planes and ships benefit from preferential tax regimes. And why? Because they can vote with their engines, and go elsewhere if they are not provided with incentives. This is not the first time that I have forecast the end of corporation tax in this column, and it is measurably closer today than it was a year and a half ago when I started writing for you.
    Source: http://www.tax-news.com/news/NZ_Announces_Changes_To_Film_Tax_Incentives____63090.html


  • Aug 08, 2013   New Zealand: reaps what it sows

    New Zealand's tax authority was congratulating itself this week on being a good and faithful servant of the country and the Government, but the truth is that, while the revenue service is no doubt efficiently run, the credit needs to be given to the Government for having run a tight ship with business-friendly policies. Corporate tax revenues are particularly healthy, and the Treasury expects a return to surplus in 2014/2015, as predicted. This is all in sad contrast to the developing disaster area next door called Australia, which has been misgoverned for the last few years by one of the most fiscally inept administrations on the planet. Not everyone with a handbag keeps a tight rein on expenditure.
    Source: www.lowtax.net/asp/story/front/NZ_Tax_System_In_Good_Health____61610.html


  • Feb 21, 2013   New Zealand: on the wrong side

    I'm sorry to see that New Zealand's finance minister is backing the OECD's push to harmonize, regularize or sanitize, or whatever you want to call it, the international corporate taxation regime. New Zealand has a nominally right-wing government, and indeed it has behaved in a business-friendly way since it came into power. Mind you, when it comes to taxation, just about all finance ministers seem to sing from the same hymn-sheet, whatever their affiliation. Instead, they should drink from a glass labeled "competition" every morning. In these few words I'm not going to try to lay out the pros and cons of the OECD's pogrom against BEPS (base erosion and profit-shifting), but I just want to point out that for all the fine words and lofty intentions being slung around, the only way in which the international community (aka the high-taxing nations) can change matters is by reducing competition, which is against the interests of both business and their own citizens.
    Source: http://www.lowtax.net/asp/story/front/New_Zealand_Backs_OECD_Tax_Work____59800.html


  • Nov 08, 2012   New Zealand: copy-catting

    This year the two sectors everybody loves to hate are banking and mining, and this makes them sitting targets for governments, who go after the money, especially if it's baddies that have got it. The catch phrase is: 'make sure they pay their fair share', never mind that they already pay more than anybody else. I'd like to ban the word 'fair' as in 'fair trade' and 'fair share'. It's hypocritical and judgmental. Now New Zealand, having seen that Mrs Gillard across the water has gotten away with bare-faced theft from the miners, has jumped onto the band-waggon and is going to extract a 'fair' amount of tax from its miners. Not having any bankers to speak of, I suppose. Needless to say, 'fair' implies an increase: when was the last time that a government told a bank or a mining company that it ought to pay less tax?
    Source: http://www.lowtax.net/asp/story/front/NZ_Consults_On_Changes_To_Mineral_Taxation____58062.html


  • Oct 25, 2012   New Zealand: doesn't bite it off

    To the Tasman Sea. Or rather its fiscal abolition, through the creation of a common economic space between Australia and New Zealand. I haven't been there, but the differences between the two countries probably seem as pointed, if you are there, as they seem pointless, if you are not. Before anyone gets upset, I speak purely economically. Let national diversity flourish, of course, is my watchword. But it is hard to see why these two countries, of all possible economic pairings across the globe, should have such different fiscal systems. So moves towards economic parity are welcome, and should progress smoothly, although the moves so far seem very tentative.
    Source: http://www.lowtax.net/asp/story/front/Australia_NZ_Progress_Toward_Single_Market____57821.html


  • Aug 16, 2012   New Zealand: reaps the harvest

    And here's an example of why they're almost certainly wrong: New Zealand's 2001 increase in upper individual tax rates has resulted in less money for the government, and no doubt full planes to Vanuatu and Hong Kong. It's a clearer case than Ireland's, because New Zealand was already in the dangerous territory of over-35% tax, which is about the level at which virtually everyone thinks that reasonable contribution turns into extortion, and therefore everyone's thoughts turn to tax management rather than company management.
    Source: http://www.lowtax.net/asp/story/front/NZ_Top_Rate_Hike_Fails_To_Boost_Revenues____56668.html


  • May 31, 2012   New Zealand: surpluses in sight!

    I am half-hearted in giving the week's third encomium to New Zealand, which unveiled a budget which will see fiscal surpluses from 2014 onwards, although taxes rise rather than fall in order to achieve this. No country will be able to offer business or its citizens a happy home unless it gets its debt under control: in New Zealand's case the debt is topping out at just 40% of GDP, compared with the stratospheric levels of more than 100% for some Old World countries, and the government says it will be able to start reducing debt in 2015. I would have preferred to see the government take the axe to public spending, of course.
    Source: http://www.lowtax.net/asp/story/front/English_Delivers_SurplusFocused_NZ_Budget____55611.html


  • May 10, 2012   New Zealand: trying hard to cut its deficit and is increasingly open to international markets


    Source: http://www.lowtax.net/asp/story/front/New_Zealand_Determined_To_Return_To_Surplus____55180.html



 

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