Second in a series of obvious questions, why doesn’t Key just commit to fixing our tax haven loopholes? What’s the downside? A few lawyers lose an easy few million, but that isn’t worth the damage to the country. So why not act?
Toby Manhire puts it best:
Key like a cat on a hot tin roof
Amid the white noise of the yes-we-are-no-we’re-not squabbling, the truth of course is somewhere in the middle: New Zealand has become attractive as a location for offshore trusts or look-through companies, but these are neither integral to our economy nor a defining characteristic.
Nor would it be that hard to fix – amp up the disclosure rules, so to flush out or at least dissuade anyone who might be evading tax or laundering money, or otherwise involved in nefarious activity from sticking their cash under our mattress. As tax expert Deborah Russell puts it, it is simply a matter of following the Australian example and “collecting names of settlors and beneficiaries, and proactively disclosing them to authorities elsewhere”.
So why doesn’t the government do that? There is a distinct sense that the Prime Minister does see the sense in such a path. He was dismissive at the outset four weeks ago, but has since appointed John Shewan to review the offshore trust tax regime and of late started to use, a lot, the word “learnings” – a noun that should itself incur a hefty levy.
But at the same time, some of Key’s reaction has been puzzling – enough to prompt Winston Peters to suggest he appeared “like a boy who’s had a widdle behind the couch and he’s denying it to mum”. …
I still find it hard to believe, but combined with an unwillingness to take action on foreign ownership, it really does look as if this government cares more about the interests of the international rich than the local Kiwi.