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Guest Post: Government’s multi billion dollar lies

Written By: - Date published: 7:44 am, March 20th, 2016 - 39 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, Economy, john key, national, overseas investment, tax - Tags: , ,

Writing in the NZ Herald, Matt Nippert has exposed lies that demolish National’s economic policies.

A major Herald investigation has found the 20 multinational companies most aggressive in shifting profits out of New Zealand overall paid virtually no income tax, despite recording nearly $10 billion in annual sales to Kiwi consumers.”

Government Lie #1: Foreign investment is good for NZ.

The truth: It’s destroying our local businesses.

NZ retailers cannot fairly compete with a tax haven retailers if locals pay 28% tax and the multinationals pay little or nothing.

Foreign tax haven companies (investors) are destroying NZ businesses. They are also stealing from the tax paying public.

Government Lie #2: We negotiated well in the TPPA negotiations.

The truth: We were a pushover.

This government made trade concessions to two of the biggest tax avoiders, pharmaceuticals and IT. The government could have said, “When you stop shifting profits out of NZ and pay the taxes you owe us, only then will we discuss extensions of your patents and copyrights.” Instead the government gave concessions to the tax avoiders and had the gall to call it a success.

Disastrous negotiating, Mr. Key. You had the cards and you didn’t play them.

Government Lie #3: The IRD’s motto is “It’s our job to be fair.”

The truth: Foreigners get tax breaks IRD would never dream of giving you or me.

The IRD lets drug companies set their own level of tax! Several drug companies said they had agreements with Inland Revenue on the level of profits they should be reporting. Of course if the IRD pushes too hard, they can go to court where the drug companies are holding all the cards.

This IRD policy is not fair.

Conclusion:

  1. Many foreign investments are a disaster for New Zealand.
  2. The government botched the TPPA negotiations.
  3. The government leaves the IRD with its hands tied so multinationals can rip us off.

Amakiwi

39 comments on “Guest Post: Government’s multi billion dollar lies ”

  1. saveNZ 1

    +1000 Excellent post and summary.

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    From the Herald story:

    Tax avoidance as a consequence of globalisation is not limited to just the multinationals, of course. The same thing is happening daily at a much more individual level, every time a person makes an online purchase off-shore, and avoids GST, for example. That is a potentially larger tax loophole to be plugged.

    Yeah, and let’s face it, individuals who buy things online probably don’t give quite so much money to the National Party.

    • AmaKiwi 2.1

      “That is a potentially larger tax loophole to be plugged.”

      Run the numbers. In order to collect half a billion in GST, every adult New Zealander needs to buy more than $2,000 on line every year.

      I buy online ONLY because of lack of availability locally, NEVER to avoid GST.

      The GST story is the multinationals’ fabricated argument to divert attention from blatant tax fraud.

  3. tc 3

    Yes point 3 is where the NACT have done some seriously deep running long term damage by slashing and burning capability and structures within the likes of IRD, Health, DOC, innovation (Joyce’s ruthless smashing up of agresearch etc), kiwirail etc etc.

    Tying the hands of any progressive govt to repairing their destruction.

    Good post !

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Time for Labour to commit to pulling out of the TPP. At their next dinner out, Andrew Little should tell the Big Pharma execs that they need to be paying their fair share of tax.

    • ianmac 4.1

      “…tell the Big Pharma execs that they need to be paying their fair share of tax.”
      See the Headlines now.
      “Little Destroys NZ Health Scheme.”
      Today Big Pharma threatens to withdraw the supply of all medicines from NZ in light of Little threats to limit the rightfully earned income of major……”

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1

        That’d be awesome. It would allow us to bypass all patents on medicines and produce them cheaply here.

    • saveNZ 4.2

      +1 CV

  5. Descendant Of Sssmith 5

    I’m still of the view that all companies get taxed on gross sales (at a low rate) and expenses and profit become irrelevant to taxation.

    This would ensure every business and company pays tax, it’s simple to understand, it can be collected at point of sale and distributed directly to the government, businesses would have to only do monthly returns for case sales, tax avoidance and non-payment would be much more difficult.

    Too much profit is extracted from companies via offshore expenses and high salaries for executives and board members.

    At the same time remove taxation off wages and salaries by netting them off to their post tax rate to reduce the taxation companies who actually employ people pay. Workers would no longer have to do tax returns. Share and investments would be taxed and paid the same as companies.

    Simple and efficient.

    Lift the minimum wage at the same time so the lowest paid get more.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      I’m still of the view that all companies get taxed on gross sales (at a low rate) and expenses and profit become irrelevant to taxation.

      Is this not what GST is?

      • pat 5.1.1

        companies don’t pay GST per se….end consumers do….seems to me DoS is proposing a form of turnover tax which reminds of the transaction tax proposed some time back, originally by Social Credit I think.

      • Sabine 5.1.2

        no GST is only ever paid by the End Consumer, who can not offset it against GST received or with their Tax bill at the end of the year.

        Accounting 101

      • Descendant Of Sssmith 5.1.3

        Nope GST paid to the government is offset by GST claimed on expenses.

        Consider it in this way:

        1. Assume the total tax collected remains the same
        2. Businesses that that don’t currently pay tax will now do so
        3. Businesses that now pay low tax will pay a bit more
        4. Other businesses will pay less tax

        Taxation in this way will mean that every business that sells a product or service in NZ will pay something towards the cost of running New Zealand.

        I would also suggest that if the government has surpluses each year x amount should be used to reduce tax and x amount returned to the businesses that paid it.

        The taxation benefit of increased productivity and sales should not solely be retained by government. If NZ has a good year then all should benefit.

        It’s less complicated than a financial transactions tax.

        You still need something to deal with capital gains as well.

  6. BM 6

    Should our exporters pay all their tax overseas or back in NZ?

    • Stuart Munro 6.1

      Probably some of each.

      • BM 6.1.1

        That’s the issue isn’t it, if we expect multi nationals to pay all their tax here then the same has to apply to all our exporting companies.

        Question is, would we be better or worse off,?

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          Better off. You can see this from our ongoing current account deficit.

          • BM 6.1.1.1.1

            According to that link, Greens Leader James Shaw reckons that foreign companies sell about 10 billion dollars worth of goods in NZ and we miss out on about $500 million worth of tax

            ( he did say $500 billion but, I have a sneaking suspicion he may have misspoke).

            Do our exporters combined produce less than $500 million in tax?, seems awfully low.

            • AmaKiwi 6.1.1.1.1.1

              “Shaw did say $500 billion but, I have a sneaking suspicion he may have misspoke.”

              No he didn’t. Among the biggest tax haven offenders are Exxon/Mobil and Chevron (also retail petrol).

        • The Chairman 6.1.1.2

          “If we expect multi nationals to pay all their tax here then the same has to apply to all our exporting companies.”

          Why is that?

          The companies we export to are obliged to pay tax in their own jurisdictions.

          • Gristle 6.1.1.2.1

            TC it is an extremely simplistic view to hold that companies are “obliged to pay tax in their own jurisdictions.” We live in a world where:
            1. vertically integrated choose to make their profit in the most tax advantaged location. Look at Rio Tinto making more profit from its insurance and transport arms than mining bauxite in Australia.
            2. licence fees, management fees, inter company loans etc are structured to repatriate profits to the most tax advantaged location.
            3. Tax minimisation consumes way to much resource.

            Given that it is unlikely that an equitable world wide tax scheme is likely to occur NZ is left to do what it can here. Taxing on turnover is a possible route.

            The example of NZ paye and GST system are about as tax efficient as you can get. How many other countries are there where most workers do not need to file a return? What is missing is an overhaul of company tax to increase the scope and eliminate avoidance.

            • The Chairman 6.1.1.2.1.1

              You completely missed the context of the discussion between BM and I.

              Not all exporters are multi-nationally based. As BM implied.

              Therefore, If we expect multi-nationals to pay all their tax, the same doesn’t apply to all our exporters.

              Any correction to current structures will only apply to multi nationals using current avoidance structures.

            • AmaKiwi 6.1.1.2.1.2

              Double taxation treaties. NZ has double taxation treaties with many countries. Under these treaties you get credit for the tax already paid to another country.

              Example: A company domiciled in Europe might pay 35% corporate tax. NZ corporate tax is 28% so New Zealand’s view is the company has already paid its tax obligation to its home country.

              Another company is domiciled in the Tax Haven Islands. It paid 5% to the Tax Haven Islands. Our rate is 28% so 28% minus 5% already paid means the company pays our IRD at a rate of 23%. (28 minus 5 = 23)

            • NZJester 6.1.1.2.1.3

              Don’t forget how one of the worlds most profitable companies Apple manages to makes the bulk of its profits in its tax haven of Ireland.
              Apple products made in China are purchased from their manufacturing contractors by Apples Irish subsidiary.
              They add on a large markup and then sell the goods onto its various subsidiaries around the globe including the US parent company. A very small extra markup is then added by them as they on-sell the goods. On paper the bulk of the profit was made in Ireland. However none of those goods sold outside of Ireland go anywhere near the country. The goods are instead shipped direct from Chinese manufactures warehouses to the final destination subsidiaries that supposedly purchased them from Ireland.
              Apple only pays tax on the supposedly small markup in every other country they sell in.
              Every time you buy an Apple product in New Zealand they are ripping off this country of its true taxable value.

        • Descendant Of Sssmith 6.1.1.3

          There’s existing tax agreements that allow the offsetting of tax paid in one country against the taxation paid in another to help deal with this.

          The US also expects US citizens working overseas to pay tax in the US.

          Tax havens and the ability to put your income into low tax localities would suggest we’d be better off.

          International taxation is already a mixed up mess – I’m not sure we can easily sort that out.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    Things is, we’ve never needed foreign investment. No country needs foreign money (you know, the stuff created at will) to utilise their own resources.

    Simple as that really. And once we realise that then we can get our economy working for us rather than rich foreigners.

  8. dv 8

    Would the TPP investor state clause allow the govt to be sued if the tax regime was changed to capture the big corpora profits?

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      Yes. It would be considered government interference in the normal and expected profitability of the corporations.

      • AmaKiwi 8.1.1

        Colonial Viper

        That should kill TPPA for sure. What NZ conservative could accept that we cannot fix our own tax system to close these gaping holes?

        It’s what Obama means when he says the US wants to set the rules so China has to abide by America’s multinational’s rules.

        • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.1

          That should kill TPPA for sure. What NZ conservative could accept that we cannot fix our own tax system to close these gaping holes?

          Conservatives wouldn’t but the neo-liberals in charge of National would as they seek themselves to avoid taxes.

  9. Tautuhi 9

    TPPA is already signed done deal for dummies, just needs ratification by the rats!!!

    • saveNZ 9.1

      @ Tautuhi Not if we get a change of government (NZ First and Greens against TPPA and Labour supposed to be against TPPA) AND a change of government in the US (Trump and Sanders against TPPA, Clinton also claims she is against to win against Sanders, but nobody believes her, as she has sold her soul to big business already).

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      If the US doesn’t ratify then it’s not a done deal. Indications are that the US won’t ratify.

      • AmaKiwi 9.2.1

        Indications also are that some big money lobbies want to change the terms because their greed is not fully satisfied. Technically, they can’t change the terms. But the political reality is they can.

        We small countries are mice sleeping in bed with an elephant.

        • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1.1

          They’ll ignore what they don’t like and enforce, with prejudice, that which they do.

  10. AmaKiwi 10

    A question has been raised about how NZ can we determine what portion of a multinational’s profits should be attributed to the country where its products are sold (NZ).

    One possible solution is to break the multinational’s vertical monopolies.

    Example: Apple would not be allowed to directly sell their products in NZ. They can only sell to a local Apple distributor and this distributor cannot in any way be owned by the parent multinational company. It must be 100% locally owned.

    At present a company like Apple (international) is avoiding NZ taxes by claiming they only make 1% or 2% profit on their NZ sales. No one in their right mind would take on the NZ Apple distributorship if the profit margin is this low. Any NZ business person will require a 30% to 50% discount from the Apple (international) on computers and phones in order to cover their local sales costs. The IRD will then tax the profits of the NZ Apple distributor.

    This model can be applied to all multinationals. The car industry is an example.

  11. That’s a great Guest Post! Short, direct and to-the-point. Unfortunately, it is a common practice for many governments – not only in New Zealand to support, often disastrous, foreign investments which often brings terrible results, while at the same time not giving any tax breaks to the country’s citizens… And they have the balls to tell us it’s good 😀

    The three final points you make pretty much sum it all up.

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