In his response to a feature on foreign trusts, Geoff Cone took a categorical stand, asserting that New Zealand isn’t a tax haven. In contrast to recent media coverage about the country’s foreign trusts, the truth is that New Zealand upholds a high degree of transparency on tax related matters and doesn’t feature in the list of tax havens, according to OECD database.
Some of the key features of tax havens include the absence of transparency, tax evasions, as well as laws and regulations that bar the sharing of information among different countries. Moreover, its private banking industry is not highly secretive as is the case with tax havens.
New Zealand prides itself in having implemented the 2002 OECD Model Agreement, which is the gold standard for transparency on sharing of information about tax matters for purposes of enforcing or administering domestic tax laws. As a result, New Zealand appears on OECD’s white list for its full implementation of the globally agreed tax standard.
New Zealand’s approach in handling foreign trusts and the stipulations placed on trustees is solid proof of the country’s headship in tax transparency.
Unlike tax havens, New Zealand has thirty-nine double tax agreements meant to restrict tax inhibitions to cross-border trade as well as prevent tax evasion. Additionally, the country has signed tax information exchange treaties with more than 20 countries. Only recently, New Zealand signed a multilateral Agreement on Mutual Administrative Support in Tax Matters.
The number of foreign trusts administered in New Zealand keeps on growing because the country is considered to be a safe, stable and law-abiding jurisdiction with an honest judiciary. Any issues regarding the use of foreign trusts can be resolved by regulating all New Zealand trust companies to make sure they all subscribe to the same quality standards.
Geoffrey Cone enrolled at the University of Otago, New Zealand and graduated with LLB honors as well as a post-graduate certification in tax and trust law. He started practicing in the 1980s and has graced courtrooms at all levels. After working at various law firms, he established his own law firm in 1999. His law firm, known as Cone Marshall Limited, specializes in tax planning and international trust. The firm has affiliates tasked with providing trustee and trust administration services.