Flippant foreign trust response damaging to NZ

The Prime Minister’s flippant response to concerns New Zealand is a tax haven continues to damage our international reputation with the European Union now investigating foreign trust laws here, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.

“John Key can insist all he likes that we are not a tax haven but the prominent part New Zealand played in the Panama Papers has left a lasting impression on other countries including the EU.

“It is deeply concerning that New Zealand now faces a raft of sanctions if it is put on the EU’s blacklist of global tax havens. As a bloc the Union is New Zealand's fourth largest trading partner– and our trade in goods alone is worth $14.3 billion or 14.1% of all goods exports and imports – there is a lot to lose.

“With the big OE an important part of many young Kiwis lives, the threat of travel restrictions is also hugely concerning.

“New Zealand has a responsibility to ensure other countries aren’t missing out on tax because offshore companies are hiding money here. With estimates the EU misses out on €1 trillion every year in tax avoidance, it is understandable they are trying to recoup some of this money.

“This shows the Government must make our trust sector more transparent. While National will adopt changes recommended by the Shewan Inquiry, it will not introduce an automatic information exchange with other tax jurisdictions or scrap tax exemptions on foreign income – two matters raised by the EU.

“It also shows Labour is right with our call for a searchable public register of foreign trusts,” Andrew Little says.