But it ticks all the boxes says Vance and Hager

The Media party have gone all in on the Panama Papers.

You have award winning journalists like Andrea Vance claiming:

All high-profile individuals, shamed by Panama Papers revelations.

But New Zealand doesn’t just have its share of wealthy tax-dodgers.

This is an entire country embarrassed and tarnished by the contents of Mossack Fonesca’s secret files.

An entire country shamed? Really?

Nicky Hager also claims:

But the Panama Papers reveal to New Zealanders something that very few of us have known: that this sort of stuff has been allowed to go on in New Zealand as well.

The Panama Papers leave no doubt at all that New Zealand is being used as one of those tax havens.

Vance again:

The Government holds fast to the position that New Zealand is not a tax haven.

From the outset, definitively answering the question: “Is New Zealand a tax haven?” became a crucial focus of our joint investigation.

We pinned the OECD definition of a tax haven to the wall of our “bunker” in central Wellington.

The OECD’s first criteria: No or nominal taxes on the relevant income.

TICK.

If New Zealand trusts don’t earn money here then they don’t pay income, capital gains, or inheritance tax here.

But this alone is generally not considered enough to earn the tax haven badge.

The OECD also considers there needs to be a lack of effective exchange of information.

TICK.

We found that while New Zealand shares information with countries such as Australia, France and the US, it doesn’t have agreements in place with many of the South and Central American countries – and this is where Mossack Fonseca has been promoting New Zealand.

A lack of transparency is another factor the OECD relies on to identify tax havens.

TICK.

Foreigners can name a Mossack Fonseca nominee as the director of the trust and so avoid being identified in the documentation.

Finally, the trusts and companies should also show no substantial activity or purpose, except for holding assets.

TICK.

If these entities were active, we couldn’t see any evidence of it.

 She’s admitted to pinning the OECD definition to the wall of her office and then she says it ticks all the boxes. How on earth did she come to that conclusion? It is certainly vastly different from my understanding of what constitutes a tax haven.

She is wilfully dissembling to create the impression that New Zealand is a tax haven. She even admits that in her first “Tick” where she says “If New Zealand trusts don’t earn money here then they don’t pay income, capital gains, or inheritance tax here.”. Is she really suggesting, along with Labour and others that people should pay tax in New Zealand even if it wasn’t earned here? Is she? Because that is what she seems to be saying.

Then her second tick is a complete failure. She claims New Zealand “doesn’t have agreements in place with many of the South and Central American countries”. Obviously this brilliant, award-winning journalist didn’t bother checking with IRD or looking up IRD’s website where they outline many Caribbean, Central and South American countries that we have agreements with.

Tax information exchange agreements

TIEAs allow the exchange of information for tax purposes between two jurisdictions.

New Zealand has TIEAs in force with:

New Zealand has TIEAs that are signed, but not yet in force, with:

New Zealand is currently negotiating TIEAs with:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Grenada
  • Macao
  • Monaco
  • Montserrat
  • Nauru
  • St Lucia
  • San Marino
  • Seychelles

 The very countries she moans about are also not even members of the OECD, except for Mexico. So she is deriding us for not having agreements with them when they aren’t part of the organisation that sets out the rules of engagement for such agreements. Her second tick is largely a bust.

Her third “tick” is that a lack of transparency is a factor but New Zealand is very transparent, especially with all the DTAs and the TIEAs in place.

Her fourth “tick” is claimed on the basis that she couldn’t see any activity, but she misses the point about the rules there and income attribution. The reason they don’t pay tax is there is no income earned in or from New Zealand based activities. It is for asset protection, in much the same way that Nicky Hager puts all his properties in a trust, and half of parliament for that matter. Just because a journalist doesn’t find evidence of something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

I’ve seen no evidence that Andrea Vance flipped it up for Peter Dunne in order to get cabinet secrets out of him either. See where you end up when you make judgment calls like that.

If Andrea Vance is our top investigative journalist, and award-winning at that then New Zealand journalism is in a very sorry state.

 – TVNZ, OECD, IRD


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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