New Zealand Law Society - Third readings for multinational tax and fuel tax legislation

Third readings for multinational tax and fuel tax legislation

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Parliament has given third readings to three bills.

The Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill will come into force on the day it receives the Royal assent.

The bill introduces a mechanism under which regional fuel taxes can be established to provide a way for regions to fund transport infrastructure programmes that would otherwise be delayed or not funded. It was introduced on 22 March 2018 by Transport Minister Phil Twyford.

Initially, the ability to implement a regional fuel tax will be available only to the Auckland region. It will be available to other regions from 1 January 2021.

Under the new law, establishing a new regional fuel tax will require a council to make a proposal to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transport for establishing the tax, including a plan for the transport programmes and projects that would be funded by the revenue.

The council will be required to consult the affected community before finalising the proposal and submitting it to the joint Ministers for approval. Approved regional fuel taxes will have a maximum initial duration of 10 years, but a council will be able to extend the tax before it expires, following a review.

All approved regional fuel taxes would be administered, monitored, and enforced by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Most sections of the Taxation (Neutralising Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) Bill will come into force on 1 July 2018, with others coming into force on the day it receives the Royal assent, and four provisions deemed to have come into force on 1 April 2008.

The bill introduces amendments to the Income Tax Act 2007, and the Tax Administration Act 1994, and has measures to counter the particular Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) strategies observed in New Zealand.

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says the changes will prevent multinationals from using BEPS strategies, including:

  • artificially high interest rates on loans from related parties to shift profits out of New Zealand;
  • related-party transactions which are intended to shift profits to offshore group members in a manner that does not reflect the actual economic activities undertaken in New Zealand and offshore;
  • hybrid mismatch arrangements that exploit differences between countries' tax rules to achieve an advantageous tax position;
  • artificial arrangements to avoid having a taxable presence or a permanent establishment in New Zealand;
  • tactics to stymie an Inland Revenue investigation, such as withholding relevant information that is held by an offshore group member.

The Friendly Societies and Credit Unions (Regulatory Improvements) Amendment Bill will come into force either through an Order in Council or 18 months after it receives the Royal assent.

The Members' bill was introduced by National MP Stuart Smith. It amends the Friendly Societies and Credit Unions Act 1982, and is intended to remove unnecessary operating and compliance costs, promote greater efficiency, innovation, and accountability, bring credit unions into alignment with other financial service providers in New Zealand, and maintain the element of mutuality and the requirement of a common bond between members.