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NZ Businesses Buck Trend On Wanting More Tax Guidance

News release

23 May 2013  

New Zealand Businesses Buck Trend On Wanting More Tax Guidance

New Zealand businesses don’t want as much tax guidance as their overseas counterparts, according to the latest research from the Grant Thornton International Business Report.

It reveals that two-thirds (68%) of businesses worldwide would like more tax guidance, even if this provided less opportunity to reduce tax liabilities across borders. Only 47% of New Zealand businesses would want such advice.

The New Zealand figures are more in line with the North American region with just 54% in agreement, compared with 67% of Asia-Pacific businesses and 75% of eurozone businesses.

Geordie Hooft, tax partner, Grant Thornton New Zealand, said that this is a surprising result given the greater level of scrutiny being placed by tax authorities worldwide on the shifting of profits from country to country for a tax advantage.

“In New Zealand, the recent high-profile examples involving Amazon, Google and Starbucks have certainly sharpened public opinion as to what is acceptable tax planning. You would think the majority of business leaders would also welcome more transparency,” said Hooft.

“The lack of certainty around the Courts’ new approach to interpreting what constitutes tax avoidance may be perceived by some as bringing greater risk of being targeted for investigation.”

New Zealand business leaders were somewhat less critical of our tax laws and policies than business leaders from around the world. Fifty per cent said these were geared to stimulate economic growth compared with the global average of 31%.

“It seems that New Zealand businesses are reasonably happy across the board, with 60% believing our tax system encourages compliance against a global average of 37%, and 54% believing that taxpayers are being charged correctly compared with a global average of 28%.

“The other interesting finding was that 80% of New Zealand businesses were not planning to make their tax affairs more transparent to investors, stakeholders and the general public over the next 12 months against a global average of 53%.

“Much of this could be put down to businesses not wanting to disclose their tax strategies, particularly around transfer pricing,” he said.

ENDS

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