Corporate tax dodger NZ Herald finally pays what it owes

The NZ Herald recently ran a campaign, fronted by Matt Nippert, against corporate tax dodgers.

They accused all sorts of companies of various nefarious tax activities but never once called into question their owners and their proven tax evasion. Now they’ve finally given in and settled with IRD for more than $36 million they owed for their corporate tax dodging.

Australian publisher APN News & Media, which includes the NZ Herald in its stable, has reached a binding heads of agreement with the Inland Revenue Department to settle its alleged tax avoidance case and other disputed tax issues for $36.3 million – around half the amount that was in dispute.

They haven’t really paid it though; they’ve performed some corporate bookkeeping magic to use accumulated losses elsewhere to offset the tax liability…behaviour that, if performed by other companies, would see them attacked as tax dodgers.

The settlement allows APN and its subsidiaries to use $56 million of deferred tax assets that will be written off for accounting purposes after the demerger.

One of the tax wrangles concerned APN’s High Court challenge to an IRD finding that it avoided paying tax through mandatory convertible notes in arrangements with its New Zealand subsidiary. The case was one of a string involving the use of convertible notes to finance trans-Tasman acquisitions in the 2000s, most of which have been either lost or settled before they got to court.

In an explanatory memorandum last month ahead of a shareholder vote on the NZME demerger, APN said the dispute involved tax of $64 million for the period up to Dec. 31, 2014, when the transaction was completed and the IRD was seeking to impose penalties of between 10 and 50 percent of the tax in dispute as well as the tax claimed. NZME had tax losses of $48 million to offset any tax payable, it said.

It might be a sneaky corporate way to reduce their exposure but at least they’ve finally admitted they are tax dodgers and settled.

I wonder if Matt Nippert will write about it? Somehow I doubt it.



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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.