Greens introduce Bill to end foreign trust secrecy

The Green Party will today seek the leave of Parliament to introduce a Member’s Bill that would end the secrecy around foreign trusts in New Zealand, by imposing a registration and disclosure scheme on foreign trusts.

The Income Tax (Foreign Trusts Registration and Disclosure) Amendment Bill would increase transparency by requiring trustees to disclose full information about the settlors, trustees, and beneficiaries of a trust. The IRD would publish this information in an online register.

“Given the immediate risks to New Zealand’s reputation from the foreign trusts scandal, it’s essential that Parliament starts debating this issue as soon as possible,” Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said.

“The Green Party’s Bill puts an end to the legalised secrecy that makes foreign trusts so attractive to criminals and tax cheats.

“John Key might think it’s a great idea for New Zealand to become a magnet for multi-millionaire tax evaders, but the Green Party doesn’t want New Zealand to be seen as a haven for tax dodgers.

“Currently the IRD asks for just the most basic information about foreign trusts, but I think New Zealanders have a right to know who is benefiting from secretive foreign trusts in our country.

“I hope the Prime Minister will support my request to have the Bill be debated on the next Members’ day. New Zealand’s reputation is at stake.

“This Bill has previously been in the ballot under former Co-leader Russel Norman’s name. It’s ready to go and provides the opportunity for Parliament to take immediate action to clean up the Government’s mess.

“National has known for years about the extent of the foreign trusts problem but hasn’t done anything. It’s time to change the laws to shine a light on foreign trusts.

“Transparency about who is involved in foreign trusts is an important first step. We’d also like to see foreign trusts required to disclose their assets and income and we’re looking at the best way to do that,” Mr Shaw said.

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