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Discussion document to target multinational tax payment

20 February 2019

Cabinet has agreed to issue a discussion document by May about how to update New Zealand's tax framework to ensure multinational companies pay their fair share of tax, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash say.

“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,” says Mr Robertson.

“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."

Mr Robertson says the estimated value of cross-border digital services in New Zealand is around $2.7 billion. The revenue estimate for a digital services tax is $30 to $80 million, depending on how it is designed.

Mr Nash says New Zealand is currently working at the OECD to find an internationally agreed solution for including the digital economy within tax frameworks.

“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," he says.

“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."

Last updated on the 16th September 2019