New Zealand is to consult on the design of changes to tax rules which currently allow multinational companies in the digital services field to do business here without paying income tax.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash say Cabinet has agreed to issue a discussion document about how to update our tax framework to ensure multinational companies pay their fair share of tax in this country.
“Highly digitalised companies, such as those offering social media networks, trading platforms, and online advertising, currently earn a significant income from New Zealand consumers without being liable for income tax. That is not fair, and we are determined to do something about it,” Grant Robertson said.
“International tax rules have not kept up with modern business developments. In the longer term this threatens the sustainability of our revenue base and the fairness of the tax system.
“The current tax rules also provide a competitive advantage to foreign companies in the digital services field compared to local companies who offer e-commerce, online advertising, and social networking services.
“The value of cross-border digital services in New Zealand is estimated to be around $2.7 billion. We are determined to ensure that multinational companies involved in this sector of the economy pay their fair share of tax. Our revenue estimate for a digital services tax is between $30 million and $80 million, which depends on how it is designed,” Grant Robertson said.
“New Zealand is currently working at the OECD to find an internationally agreed solution for including the digital economy within tax frameworks,” Stuart Nash said.
“Our preference is to continue working within the OECD, which was also recommended last year by the interim report of the Tax Working Group. However, we believe we need to move ahead with our own work so that we can proceed with our own form of a digital services tax, as an interim measure, until the OECD reaches agreement.
“This is the same approach being considered by Australian authorities, who released a discussion document late last year. The OECD has also released a discussion document on its proposals. Officials will now finalise the New Zealand document which is likely to be publicly released by May 2019.
“The document will make it clear we are determined that multinational companies pay their fair share of tax. We are committed to finding an international solution within the OECD but would also consider an interim option till the OECD finalises a position,” Stuart Nash said.
Digital services taxes (DST) are generally charged at a very low flat rate of two to three per cent on the gross revenue earned by a multinational company in that country.
A number of countries including the UK, Spain, Italy, France, Austria and India have enacted or announced a DST.
The EU and Australia are consulting on a DST.
DSTs do not apply to goods or services, but to digital platforms who depend on a base of users. These may include, but are not limited to, social media sites like Facebook, content sharing sites like YouTube or Instagram, those that offer intermediary services like Uber, Airbnb and eBay, and others that earn income from online advertising.
New data shows a significant drop in the number of people who were victims of crime in the past year. Police Minister Stuart Nash says the number of victimisations recorded by Police during 2018 fell by 2.7 per cent.
“This means 7240 fewer people were victims of crime than the previous year,” Mr Nash says.
“One of the Coalition Government’s top priorities is to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders. There is a particular focus on community policing and on tackling organised crime, which is a driver of crimes such as burglary and assault.
“The Police statistics for 2018 show the drop in victimisations involved 1393 fewer crimes against a person and 5847 fewer crimes against property.
“This decline has been led by a drop of 4706 burglaries, representing a 6.8 per cent decrease. This is really pleasing given the invasive nature of the crime and its effect on people’s feelings of safety in their own home.
“Another pleasing result is 570 fewer robberies last year. After spiking to more than 4000 robberies in 2017, recorded robberies dropped by 14 per cent, following significant effort by Police and investment from Government to provide fog cannons and other prevention advice to at-risk shop owners.
“But while the trend is heading the right way in these categories, there are still too many victims and families suffering the trauma and other effects of serious crime.
“While there were 1000 fewer victims of assault, a fall of two per cent, Police recorded 119 more victims of sexual assault, an increase of two percent. Sexual assaults are internationally recognised as under-recorded and Police advise that the increased number may mean more victims are coming forward.
“The addition of extra police over the coming years will further ensure people feel safe in their communities. Today an additional eighty new constables officially graduate from the Royal New Zealand Police College.
“The graduation of Wing 323 means 1190 new frontline officers have been deployed around the country since the Coalition Government took office. I am also delighted with the diversity and range of skills of today’s new graduates. The youngest is 18 years old and the oldest is 48. One third are women, 14 per cent are Maori, and they share at least 12 foreign languages between them.
“I also want to pay special tribute to the 37 new constables who have just returned from supporting other emergency service personnel during the Tasman fires. After passing their final exams last week, they took their oaths as constables and headed to the South Island to assist with community safety and crime prevention efforts. It has been a brave and commendable introduction to their new career as frontline officers,” Mr Nash says.