Geoffrey Cone is a graduate of the University of Otago, New Zealand. He holds a LLB honors and a post graduate diploma in tax and trust law. He commenced practice in 1980 in Auckland, New Zealand later moving to Christchurch to become a partner and Chairman of Partners in a leading law firm. After working in the British West Indies as a litigator for two years he returned to Auckland in 1997 to establish his own firm Cone Marshall Limited. He now specializes in international trust and tax planning. In 2012 he gave his thoughts on tax transparency to the New Zealand Herald.
When you think about banks and foreign governments, New Zealand is not the first place you think of. Maybe it should be. New Zealand has shown itself to be a leader when it comes to tax transparency when dealing with foreign trust. The 2002 OECD Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters is considered by many to be the gold standard. It supports the international exchange of information helping to enforce domestic tax laws.
After exhaustive consultations Michael Cullen brought new rules to this area in 2006. Any trustee of a foreign trust, living in New Zealand, will be required by the IRD to submit a Foreign Trust Disclosure form and keep all financial and other related records.
Now details of settlements, distributions, trust deeds, liabilities, details of the trust’s assets, and details of the money received and spent by the trustee will fall under this law. Records must be in English; heavy penalties will be levied against anyone failing to comply. New Zealand has over 20 tax information exchange agreements with foreign countries all designed to prevent tax avoidance or evasion. The respected trust lawyers in New Zealand help to keep the transparency of tax laws. Bolstering New Zealand’s reputation for honesty.
While other countries might lobby for foreign money that is obtained by questionable means, and be willing to hide funds to defraud foreign governments, New Zealand wants no part of that. They are proud to do business with places like Britain, Singapore, and the US in a transparent and above board fashion. Likewise, international taxation experts consider New Zealand to be a leader in operating foreign trusts in accordance with the OECD.
Members of the international Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners work together to keep New Zealand a place other countries respect as a honest place to do business.