New legislation to improve the fairness of the tax system and prevent large multinationals from exploiting rules in order to shift their profits offshore has passed another step closer to becoming law.
Revenue Minister Stuart Nash has taken the Taxation (Neutralising Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) Bill through its second reading in Parliament. Detailed debate will continue during the Committee stage once the House resumes in June.
“New Zealand and other countries are taking action to prevent multinational corporations from engaging in aggressive tax planning. This practice, known as base erosion profit shifting, or BEPS, is a challenge for tax systems around the world,” says Stuart Nash.
“The tax strategies mean that some large multinational companies pay little tax in New Zealand, or, in fact, anywhere else in the world, despite having a significant economic presence here. This threatens the revenue base that Governments need to deliver public services and erodes the overall fairness and integrity of our tax system. It distorts competition and effective and efficient allocation of resources and enables some multinationals to exploit tax rules to get an advantage over other businesses.
“The tax system must be fair for all income earners, regardless of their size or the complexity of their arrangements. The Taxation (Neutralising Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) Bill contains a comprehensive package of measures designed to combat BEPS, ensure fairness and equity and improve the integrity of the tax base”, says Mr Nash.
The changes will prevent multinationals from using BEPS strategies, including:
- artificially high interest rates on loans from related parties to shift profits out of New Zealand
- related-party transactions which are intended to shift profits to offshore group members in a manner that does not reflect the actual economic activities undertaken in New Zealand and offshore
- hybrid mismatch arrangements that exploit differences between countries' tax rules to achieve an advantageous tax position
- artificial arrangements to avoid having a taxable presence or a permanent establishment in New Zealand
- tactics to stymie an Inland Revenue investigation, such as withholding relevant information that is held by an offshore group member.
“New Zealand's response to BEPS is generally aligned with Australia's tax legislation and broadly consistent with the OECD and G20 action plan,” says Mr Nash.
Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash says the creation of a new specialist organisation dedicated to the sector will lead to greater innovation in the way we fish and the way we manage the resource.
“Today marks the first full day for Fisheries New Zealand. It is one of four new dedicated business units within the Ministry for Primary Industries along with Forestry New Zealand, Biosecurity New Zealand and New Zealand Food Safety,” Mr Nash says.
“Fisheries New Zealand also carries the te reo Maori name Tini a Tangaroa, or whole of the sea. I thank my ministerial colleagues Shane Jones and Peeni Henare and others for their guidance on this name.
“Fisheries New Zealand, as its te reo name implies, is deeply interconnected across the whole of the sea. Our fisheries carry cultural significance and meanings, contribute to regional economic development and employment, and provide recreational and leisure opportunities. Our unique maritime environment also speaks of our country’s identity and reminds us of the need to ensure sustainability for future generations.
“We need to balance the commercial benefits from fisheries with the responsibility to look after our treasured marine mammals and seabirds and to reduce the impact of fishing on the environment. Quicker and more accurate information about commercial fishing will allow us to better manage our fish stocks, and to understand and mitigate risks to protected marine species.
“Fisheries and aquaculture bring $1.74b into New Zealand per year and create thousands of jobs. We need to keep demonstrating that fish from our waters are sustainable, and that the environmental impact of fishing is being mitigated.
“I will be looking for Fisheries New Zealand to do things differently. That means greater innovation in both the way we fish and the way we manage our fisheries. It also means greater engagement with stakeholders, and a focus on developing and implementing 21st century solutions to fisheries challenges. Fisheries New Zealand will have greater visibility and allow for a single point of accountability to enable a better understanding of who is responsible for fisheries management.
“Around 120 staff are brought together into Fisheries New Zealand, along with around 100 fisheries observers. They are based in eight sites from Whangarei to Dunedin. Fisheries New Zealand combines fisheries science, aquaculture, management, planning and monitoring. Other staff in MPI will continue to provide legal, policy and other shared services,” Mr Nash says.