HOT TOPICS:   Election 2014  |    Fonterra   |  Home loans                                      RESOURCES:    Economic calendar   |  Credit rating explained

The comment stream

Reader poll

Not until some time next year.
37% (25 votes)
It won't, this tightening cycle is done and dusted.
32% (22 votes)
Before the end of 2014.
31% (21 votes)
Total voters: 68

Older polls

Join the Interest community to be a registered commenter so you can:
- Edit your comments
- Avoid the CAPTCHA
- Vote on comments
Register Here

Already registered? log back in here ..

Forgotten your password? No problem! Click here

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne says NZ to tackle issue of whether multinational companies such as Facebook pay enough tax through international channels

Posted in News

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne says New Zealand will work through international channels to tackle the issue of whether multinational companies such as Facebook are paying an appropriate level of tax in New Zealand.

Dunne's comments come in response to recent criticism from the Labour Party over the likes of Facebook using tax loopholes to minimise the amount of tax they pay in New Zealand. Labour's revenue spokesman David Clark noted both Australia and Europe were introducing laws to clamp down on this behaviour, but the New Zealand government wasn't’ even considering it.

Now Dunne says the answer to taxing multinationals appropriately will be found through international projects and agreements. New Zealand was involved in these talks, particularly through the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), he said.

“This is a global problem requiring a global response and New Zealand will be involved in working up that response,” Dunne said.

Double Irish

New Zealand participates in the OECD project on profit shifting by multinationals and the global erosion of the corporate tax base, he said.

“Part of the OECD’s work will focus on how tax structures such as the double Irish technique may be used to minimise the tax which is payable in Ireland and other foreign countries."

“We are also closely involved with related initiatives such as the systematic reviews of country regimes being undertaken by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes and the OECD’s Forum on Harmful Tax Practices," added Dunne.

“I can assure you that any activities multinational businesses, or their New Zealand subsidiaries, perform in this country will be taxed appropriately."

His comments come after Clark pointed out Facebook paid NZ$14,500 tax in New Zealand, "give or take a few dollars", last year.

“In 2010 its tax bill was a mere NZ$5,238. For a company that has 2.2 million users in New Zealand and makes billions worldwide, that’s barely believable," said Clark.

“It appears Facebook is using the ‘double Irish’ tax technique. That’s where it uses Irish Facebook, which pays just 12.5% tax, to determine revenue and expenses. This ensures the company can put most of its revenue through countries with low-tax systems."

“Peter Dunne calls that ‘legitimate tax avoidance’. I call it a rort," Clark added.

Google's 2%

Clark also noted that Google paid just NZ$109,038 tax in New Zealand on NZ$4,447,898 in revenue.

"That’s 2%, way below our 28% corporate rate. These companies should pay the right amount of tax here,' said Clark. "We must work with Australia to ensure this sort of tax avoidance is stamped out.”

However, Dunne said tax systems around the world are adjusting to corporate giants with huge internet footprints, but very little physical presence,

“The reality is that tax regimes internationally have generally been developed for an industrial age, and have struggled to keep pace with new business models and technologies not contained by location or national borders,” Dunne said.

“That is the challenge that we face in New Zealand, but it is very much a global issue faced by other nations too. The problem is not just that these large companies are not paying substantial tax here, but that they tend not to be paying substantial tax anywhere."

“We see Britain and Australia facing exactly the same issues, and our rules are already very similar to those adopted by Australia last week,” said Dunne.

A key issue was that foreign companies are taxed on the activities they actually perform in New Zealand.

“However, the internet has made it possible to provide an increasing range of services to distant customers from anywhere in the world. This means that overseas-based internet companies have a very limited physical presence in most countries in which they operate - including New Zealand," Dunne said.

“Since the bulk of what these companies do, in terms of programming, designing websites, running servers, selling advertising, is done overseas, New Zealand, like other countries, may have very limited taxing rights."

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment in the box on the right or click on the "'Register" link at the bottom of the comments.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current Comment policy is here.

5 Comments

I cant see whats so hard in

I cant see whats so hard in taxing money before it leaves in NZ where it is collected by the company in NZ.
So get 2million in revenue, pay tax on it at a default min rate....say 15%.
regards

Can't see whats so hard

Can't see whats so hard either.  Tax their revenue.  And the GST on the transfers out of the country.
Another rort comes to mind.  Singapore apparently offer very low tax on money earned offshore. (their shore) if thats true it's a contrived rort between the Singapore government and the company against the interests of our governent.
Not only is overseas money causing a problem for house purchasers in Auckland.  There can be a rort on the tax.
So.  Live in Hong Kong.  Own a portfolio of rental houses situated in Mt Eden via a Singaport company.  Easy to transfer money out to Singapore for say 'management support', thus ensuring there is no profit to pay on the "profitless" NZ operation.  Pay only small tax in Singapore.
Wait a minute.  Maybe i could transfer my property to Singapore registered company.  MMMMMH

Appalling slackness by Dunne.

Appalling slackness by Dunne. This problem has been emerging for 20 years and NOW he wants to do something about it? 
Just like giving dogs party pills then backing down on it Peter Dunne has shown a complete lack of action until after something gets publicity. What a turkey.

Here's what the Aussies are