New Zealand Law Society - Foreign trust disclosure rules to be reviewed

Foreign trust disclosure rules to be reviewed

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Cabinet has agreed to appoint tax expert John Shewan to conduct an independent review of disclosure rules covering foreign trusts registered in New Zealand.

Finance Minister Bill English says that in light of the release of the "Panama Papers", it's worth looking at whether the disclosure rules are fit for purpose and whether there are practical improvements that can be made.

"Our rules require foreign trusts to be registered and to keep detailed financial and other records, which can be requested by Inland Revenue and passed on to tax authorities in other countries.

"In addition, we have a strong tax treaty network with the express purpose of discovering and preventing tax avoidance.

"As we've said, we're open to considering changes to disclosure rules if that is warranted. So we've asked Mr Shewan to take a thorough and independent look at the current regime to check that it's fit for purpose," Mr English says.

The terms of reference include reviewing foreign trusts' disclosure rules as they apply to record keeping, enforcement and the exchange of information with other tax jurisdictions.

Mr Shewan has been asked to report back to the ministers by 30 June 2016.