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Government can clean up foreign trusts tonight

The Government can start the clean-up of the foreign trust industry as early as tonight by supporting the Green Party’s proposed changes to a Government tax bill being voted on this evening.

Green Party finance spokesperson Julie Anne Genter will put forward an SOP to the Government’s Taxation (Transformation: First Phase Simplification and Other Measures) Bill that will require trustees, settlors, and beneficiaries of foreign trusts to disclose to the IRD their name, date of birth, address, passport number and country of residence tax number when setting up a trust.

“John Key can start the clean-up of foreign trusts tonight by voting in favour of greater transparency and disclosure,” said Green Party finance spokesperson Julie Anne Genter. 

“This will be the first test of the Government’s commitment to restoring the integrity of New Zealand’s tax system and putting a stop to the embarrassing situation of our country being used as a tax haven.

“It’s time for the Prime Minister to stop defending the tax avoidance industry and New Zealand’s role in it.

“The Panama Papers reveal that National’s minimal disclosure rules, and lack of public information, makes New Zealand a very attractive, specialist tax haven. No one can see who is hiding their money here. 

“These simple transparency changes may be enough to send away all those who want to use New Zealand-based foreign trusts for dodgy purposes. Further changes to the way foreign trusts are taxed may also be required, however.

“The simple act of shining a light on who has an interest in foreign trusts in New Zealand will make us a less attractive venue for people seeking to hide or launder their money.

“It is time to take action. Greater disclosure can shut down the dodgy use of foreign trusts that has exploded under National’s watch.

“New Zealand is conspicuous by our lack of Government response to the foreign trust saga. The US and UK are taking steps to clamp down on foreign trusts and New Zealand can join suit by voting for greater transparency tonight,” said Ms Genter.