Recent efforts to refine and balance New Zealand’s economic system have already shown impressive results, with the country outcompeting most others on the world stage in several areas. The World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report recently ranked NZ first worldwide on its ‘ease of doing business’ scale, which singles out countries with “well-designed business regulation or whose regulatory environments have thrived thanks to comprehensive reform over the years.”
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“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” unless, Mr Benjamin Franklin, we’re talking about the proposal of a capital gains tax (CGT) in New Zealand. Here, the forecast looks decidedly unclear.
The Tax Working Group (TWG) presented its interim report last month on its recommendations for the introduction of a CGT – among others – and the debate has divided into two fiercely opposed camps.
Chair of the TWG, Sir Michael Cullen, had this to say about a comprehensive CGT: “Every developed country except New Zealand has a reasonably broadly based form of capital taxation. So, the question is, are we so bright that we are the only people who aren’t doing it, or are we so dumb that we are the only people who can’t manage to do it?”
Government data matching across New Zealand has become very sophisticated. The amount of data readily accessible to the government is not only more than ever before, it is also more current and updated.
A wider outlook reveals that governments around the world are looking to transfer pricing or intercompany transactions with a push for taxpayers to ‘pay their dues’ in countries where they earn income. This doesn’t only affect larger companies like Google or Apple, but will have implications for multinational SMEs in New Zealand too.
From April 2019 onwards, all New Zealand businesses will be required to file their PAYE returns every payday, as opposed to once a month.
Some 400 employers are already using payday filing. However, there are many thousands more who need to make the switch. With less than seven months to go, time is running out and the Inland Revenue has advised businesses to begin the transition now.
The payroll software provider FlexiTime assisted Inland Revenue with trialling payday filing. Its chief marketing officer, Jake Harvey, said: “We’re excited to already be up and running with our zero-touch, fully-automated payday filing solution that eliminates what was previously a manual monthly task for businesses.”
Statistics New Zealand (StatsNZ) have revealed that consumer price inflation (CPI) increased by 0.4% in the second quarter, which is lower than the 0.5% increase previously forecasted by economists. Banks and authorities are prepared to take actions to boost the inflation rate if necessary, to keep the economy within healthy parameters for investment.
Petrol prices, a key variable in determining inflation the rate, rose by 3.2% over the previous quarter according to StatsNZ. In May, petrol reached a peak of $2.299 per litre across most of the country due to rising global oil prices as well as local currency depreciation, contributing to New Zealand’s modest inflation rate – but it may not be enough. "Maintaining inflation around 2 per cent next year would require a further surge in world oil prices and/or a continued slide in the exchange rate," said Dominick Stephens, a Westpac chief economist.
Although no official date has been announced yet, it is expected that from between mid-late 2019 onwards, New Zealand will begin charging international visitors between NZ $25 - NZ $35 to enter the country. It is expected that the tax would be applicable to most travellers staying for 12 months of less. The tax would be used to fund tourism, infrastructure, and conservation efforts, reflecting the debate surrounding the increasing environmental and infrastructure pressures resulting from the growth in tourism.
A proposed tax planned to come into effect October 2019, known colloquially as the ‘Amazon Tax’, could add taxes to books and other small goods under $400 bought online. The tax would be beneficial to independent booksellers who have long struggled to compete with Amazon.
According to Revenue minister Stuart Nash, this plan will close the tax loophole, which allows people to buy small items online and bypass the 15% tax imposed on goods sold in New Zealand Stores. Nash says, “Small businesses such as bookshops have convincingly argued they are penalized by a system which is badly out of date.”
10th May 2018
New Zealand’s proposed so-called ‘Amazon Tax’ falls squarely in line with the enactment in 2016 of its ‘Netflix Tax’, as part of a modernisation effort to help adapt the country’s tax system to the realities of present-day commerce. The Amazon Tax would apply to importation of low-value goods from abroad which have previously gone untaxed.
Current estimates put the value of such untaxed imports at $533 million per year as of 2016, with an increase to $850 million likely by 2021 as the e-commerce industry continues to grow. The new law is not yet set in stone, but it is aiming for a 1st October 2019 start date. If left unchanged, non-resident suppliers that deliver more than $60,000 per year in goods to New Zealand consumers will be required to register for, and pay, GST on all low-value (<NZ$400) items shipped. Items valued at over NZ$400 will be taxed by customs, but will not be affected by the newly proposed law.
10th April 2018
The New Zealand Treasury has begun preparing a non-financially-focused ‘Wellbeing Budget’ for the country, according to a news release that has had some readers double-checking to make sure the information wasn’t released on April Fool’s Day, and that the primary source wasn’t The Onion or a similar satirical site. The news is indeed real, however – and moreover, it may be a welcome development for the country, depending on the implementation.
“Life is about more than money,” wrote the New Zealand Treasury in its recent annual Investment Statement. In fact, as far back as 2011, Treasury drafted an economic policy paper that blended the natural world, human living quality and the health of the society as a whole into a more holistic document. The framework has been developed further in recent years, with financial matters still being included in relation to these other variables.
27th March 2018
New Zealand’s Inland Revenue (IR) will implement a newly introduced provisional tax option for the country’s small businesses. Starting this April, many small businesses with less than $5 million turnover a year will have the new tax payment option that enables them to use a new method to pay provisional tax only when they are earning profits.
16th February 2018
The treasury has recently released a statement announcing that the second half of 2017 has seen New Zealand’s government gain $600 million more tax dollars than expected. Core Crown tax revenue was $597 million ahead of expectations and amounted to $37.2 billion during this six month period.
"At this point in the year these results indicate the economy is tracking well. The Government is committed to seeing this continue and ensuring that we have sustainable growth and a fair share in prosperity for all New Zealanders," said Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
31st January 2018
Sugar leads to obesity. This fact and a new study by the University of Waikato's School of Food and Nutrition are driving a renewed interest in a New Zealand sugar tax. The study has sparked a debate and has made headlines across Asia Pacific.
19th December 2017
Tax cuts proposed by the National party are now being scrapped. In their place, the Labour party will roll out their Families package legislation, which will cost an estimated $5.3 billion over four years.
23rd November 2017
Money laundering is a worldwide problem that has recently been brought into focus in New Zealand. For those who don’t know what this crime is, money laundering is when money received from illegal activities—such as theft, tax evasion, and drug trafficking among others—is passed through a legitimate business to give it the appearance that it was obtained through legal means. Essentially, it is the process of turning 'dirty money' into 'clean money'.
25th October 2017
New Zealand’s tax system is changing. The wheels of the Inland Revenue’s business transformation programme are already in motion. With its implementation, not only will citizens be able to pay their taxes in an easier, faster and simpler fashion, but they will also gain more confidence that they’ll receive the deductions and entitlements they deserve. As the tax system is updated for the modern era, citizens will primarily interact with Inland Revenue via digital devices.
29th September 2017
Early in September, David Seymour, New Zealand’s ACT Party leader urged the country to fix the tax loopholes allowed to commercial businesses run by charitable organisations. Because of their registration as charitable or not-for-profit trusts, these commercial companies have been exempted from paying income tax.
30th August 2017
It has been a rough year so far for Fuji Xerox group. The New Zealand subsidiary of the Japanese multinational firm has been through an accounting irregularities scandal earlier this year. The scandal, triggered by a whistleblower in 2015 according to stuff.com, lead to an investigation, which lasted several months with a shocking result of inappropriate accounting since 2011.
Fujifilm Holdings reported that it found FXNZ conducted some inappropriate accounting from 2011 to 2016 by overstating revenue by about $473 million. The issues caused shareholders to lose their equity at the parent company, worth $230m in New Zealand and $121m in Australia.
16th June 2017
Inland Revenue’s (IR) restructuring could have implications for audits, enquiries, investigations and reviews in the future. IR announced a year ago plans to cut 1500 employees from its workforce in an attempt to modernise and streamline its own efforts. The period of restructuring has been planned to begin in the months following necessary staff consultations, which have now begun.
10th March 2017
Growth in New Zealand’s economy has been experiencing a slowdown in recent months, with Statistics New Zealand reporting a 0.4% rate of growth in the fourth quarter of 2016. That number is lower than previous predictions of 0.7% growth for the same period, and represents the country’s slowest rate of economic growth since the start of 2015.