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PM forced to release his tax details

Written By: - Date published: 8:08 am, April 12th, 2016 - 46 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, tax - Tags: , , , , , ,

Fallout from the Panama Papers has forced the PM to bow to sustained public pressure. After a series of denials and evasions he has released some of his tax details. Not our PM – the UK’s David Cameron:

Epoch-changing attitudes to wealth and tax are engulfing Cameron

One week begins with No 10 insisting David Cameron’s tax affairs are a private matter. The following week starts with Cameron publishing a summary of his tax returns for the last six years. There are many examples of supposedly mighty prime ministers succumbing weakly to an unstoppable wave. This is one of the most spectacular, and the wave generated by the Panama Papers has not subsided yet.

Here in NZ our own PM is still in an earlier stage of the process:

He [Key] had no intention of releasing his tax records. “We have very strong rules in New Zealand around pecuniary interest. I’m quite comfortable and very confident of my tax record. I use the best people, I don’t use sheltering vehicles – I’ve never used those.”

“Quite comfortable” is an interesting turn of phrase – right up there with “pretty legal”. Unfortunately for Key he has strong form on lying about his financial affairs (TranzRail shares).

Perhaps Vernon Small had this background in mind when he penned this extraordinary piece:

NZ PM John Key refuses to release tax records – what do we know of his assets?

Prime Minister John Key says he is “100 per cent confident” his tax affairs are beyond reproach – but he has no intention of releasing his tax records.

Key’s comments came amid the international furore over the leaked Panama Papers and a move by British Prime Minister Prime Minister David Cameron to release six years of his tax records. …

Small goes on to list Key’s known assets, blind trusts etc., and note that there are “Little details of Key’s wealth”.

Key has two problems in keeping his details secret. The first is Cameron’s UK precedent. The second is his own mantra (when it comes to prying in to the rest of us) – nothing to hide nothing to fear…

From the vaults…

46 comments on “PM forced to release his tax details ”

  1. mary_a 1

    If FJK has financial interests in “blind” trusts, what makes him so confident about them being above board? He’s being very cagey about his finances and returns, which automatically raises suspicion about his dealings!

    FJK is a public servant and a representative of the country and people. As such he should be required as a duty of his office, to reveal all his financial dealings. Same applies to any MP or public servant, regardless of political persuasion.

    John Shewan is a NatzKEY lackey, having given advice over the years. He will dance to FJK’s tune, playing the game to the PM’s satisfaction, so all will be revealed as being fine and dandy. What is needed here is someone completely independent of government, able to carry out a bipartisan investigation of NZ tax laws as applied to foreign investors eg being used a tax haven.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    Just now on RNZ Andrew Little has suggested he will release his tax details in the next few days.

  3. BM 3

    This is stupid stuff by Labour and especially Andrew Little, what the fuck is wrong with the guy?

    Sub 20 here we come.

    • adam 3.1

      You are making me laugh BM. Concern trolling – man, you must be scared.

      • Anne 3.1.1

        Of course BM’s scared. Little is an honourable man and BM knows it. Hopefully other party political leaders will follow suit and Key will deride them at his own peril. That’s a scary scenario for died in the wool rwnjs.

      • weka 3.1.2

        Parrot-boy is at it again. CT must be a bit busy at the moment if all they’ve got for the low enders like BM is “Labour are stupid, Labour are stupid”.

    • Bearded Git 3.2

      Wrong BM.

      When Little, Turei, Peters and Shaw release their tax returns Johnny is going to be looking very lonely.

      No upside for Key on this issue-Labour are milking it well. Little was good on MR this morning explaining that it should be a judge airing the wider moral issues related to the 12,000 overseas trusts, not a tax expert appointed with narrow terms of reference and who is on record as advising people how to avoid tax.

      …and editing here quickly in response to a text to MR, Little does need to speak up-he mumbles a bit when on the radio. Some media training would help here.

      • BM 3.2.1

        Did you know in 2011 there were estimated to be over 200,000 family trusts in NZ, in 2016 you could probably double that figure, that’s a lot of voters.

        I’d say if you approached any of those 400,000 and said show me what’s in your trust, I think you may be up to no good, it would be a safe bet to make that all would tell you to piss off and that it’s none of your business.

        These same people will know doubt be thinking, “Who the hell does Little think he is, Keys financial affairs is no ones business but his, what a wanker”

        Andrew Little is on very shaky ground

        • Stuart Munro

          Yeah but trusts are like peanuts mate, you can never have just one. Not many Labour votes in the dedicated trust crowd either.

          • weka

            Plenty of lefties with trusts. BM’s line is daft though, because there is an obvious difference between an MP and other citizens.

        • Draco T Bastard

          I’d say if you approached any of those 400,000 and said show me what’s in your trust, I think you may be up to no good, it would be a safe bet to make that all would tell you to piss off and that it’s none of your business.

          Thing is, they’re actually wrong. The economy doesn’t belong to them personally (although I’m pretty sure there’s many who would like it to do so) it belongs to all of us and that gives us the right to know how our economy is being used. This also applies to each individuals personal finances.

          • Bob

            “The economy doesn’t belong to them personally (although I’m pretty sure there’s many who would like it to do so) it belongs to all of us and that gives us the right to know how our economy is being used. This also applies to each individuals personal finances”
            So you would be happy for the Government to give the IRD access to XKeyscore then? I mean its our right to know how our economy is being used, so nothing to hide and all that?

    • locus 3.3

      The pm’s failure to act quickly on the Panama papers is going to smoke and stink for a very long time BM whether you or your clay footed pal like it or not.

      Little is doing the right thing, while jk’s ethical vacuum is getting harder and harder to hide. Much like your charmless and constantly nasty negative attitude

    • BM the ignoramus, strikes again .

      • Gangnam Style 3.4.1

        Little takes personal responsibility, he doesn’t run away to Hawaii like some. Good interview by Little, I thought he was quite clear. If any Labour people have dodgy trusts then that would be a very good time for a clear out. IMO.

  4. upnorth 4

    Andrew Little is a fool to release his tax details and here are my reasons

    It will tell everyone how much he earns, he will be pulled apart by the public as they analyse the data.

    Then he will be in the stupid situation where he needs only one of his MP’s to be adjudged somehow related to the Panama papers then he will need to ask all his MP’s to declare.

    This is stupid politics or should I say real lack of understanding of the downside by doing so.

    I cant believe the man I am hoping to possible vote for one day now puts his whole party on the line that they too must declare.

    There will be some clever person out there just waiting to analyse the data and I bet you a dollar there will questions raised around a deduction or tax calculation.

    This is silly silly silly. Showing me as a voter how much he earns will do nothing for me and here is something else

    How many years is he going to declare – will he declare all his EMPU years?

    • BM 4.1


      According to Parliament’s pecuniary interests register, 76 MPs – nearly two-thirds of all MPs – hold a beneficial interest in a trust or serve as a trustee.


      if I was a Labour MP I’d be seriously fucked off about Littles idiotic grand standing, because you know you’re going to get sucked into his vortex of stupidity.

      • Bearded Git 4.1.1

        So angry about all this sunlight starting to shine on murky financial affairs BM…you must be very worried how this is playing out.

        Little has said he has no trusts at all. If Labour MOP have trusts these should be out in the open as should all other trusts where MOP are beneficiaries.

      • locus 4.1.2

        I’m willing to lay odds that there are far more on the right who are now quaking at the ‘vortex’ they may get sucked into.

        High time that everyone on the public payroll who we voted in are required to be fully transparent on all of their financial interests and tax avoidance ‘vehicles’

      • joe90 4.1.3

        if I was a Labour MP I’d be seriously fucked off about Littles idiotic grand standing, because you know you’re going to get sucked into his vortex of stupidity.

        Some years ago while in receipt of earnings related compensation I had a private D bust my finances wide open because a neighbour decided there was enough smoke to indicate I was working.

        These pricks are in receipt of public money and a portion of the parliament have decided there’s enough smoke to indicate dodgy shit, so, gooses, ganders, salsa etc, tell me WTF shouldn’t a parliamentary equivalent of a D bust their finances wide open?.

      • Herodotus 4.1.4

        Perhaps our PM could be concerned that if he releases his tax returns we will find out if his gifting is to registered charities and thus have a tax rebate, or some such of his gifting is to non registered enterprises questions could be raised as to what organisations are the benefactors of our PM’s charity.
        Then again he could be a very generous person donating to just causes Greenpeace, SST , perhaps

    • locus 4.2

      The public will continue to focus on the entire dirty fabric of tax havens irrespective of their political leanings because they are sick of the arrogance and greed of tax evaders. Little is right on the mark, and if the pm doesn’t follow suit with releasing all the info on his blind trusts and ‘charities’ he donates to, then he will be the centre of attention.

      As for any other politicians left or right who are caught out, good riddance.

      • Anne 4.2.1

        As for any other politicians left or right who are caught out, good riddance.

        Concur. Provided they really have been caught out and it’s not just a smear and spin campaign as experienced by David Cunliffe in 2014.

        And that reminds me ( funny that 😉 ) yesterday’s RNZ political spot was very good. Matthew Hooten was replaced by Rob Hosking and for once there was a reasoned, mature debate between two well informed commentators. No shouting, bullying, talking over the top of the ‘left’ speaker and plenty of respect for each other. If only it was like that all the time. If only…


      • Draco T Bastard 4.2.2

        As for any other politicians left or right who are caught out, good riddance.


        Having honest politicians would be novel but also a huge improvement.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.3

      Then he will be in the stupid situation where he needs only one of his MP’s to be adjudged somehow related to the Panama papers then he will need to ask all his MP’s to declare.

      How about we have just all politicians declare.

      There will be some clever person out there just waiting to analyse the data and I bet you a dollar there will questions raised around a deduction or tax calculation.

      Great. It’ll give us a starting point in how to fix our present broken system.

      Of course, I think that it’d be easier just to replace our present system with a new one designed from the ground up. One that’s fit for purpose.

  5. Whispering Kate 5

    Has anybody who has interviewed the PM about his trusts ever asked him if he has his immediate family named only on the trusts he has tucked away. He may well be telling the truth in plain sight knowing that he can be investigated and his name will not come up. David Cameron admitted his wife’s name was on some of his investments. Knowing what a crafty sod he is he will go to no ends to distance himself from any dirt.

    Why doesn’t he set an example and allow his finances to be scrutinised, if he has nothing to hide what is his excuse then. He has had Dot Com in court for facilitating a portal for access to copyrighted media, Dot Com said the portal was for people to use and pay for their stuff, if they chose not to then he wasn’t responsible for what they did. He has now been dumped on from a great height and he is almost on his way to the US on extradition charges – the courts found him guilty.

    How can the PM now let NZ be used as a tax haven so that those countries of origin are denied the taxes due to them and say, well if they choose not to pay tax in their home domiciles that is not our responsibility and now try to worm out of it and say that we aren’t guilty for doing what Dot Com did.

    The man is thorough dishonest and a hypocrite.

    • s y d 5.1

      Ahh, the old blind trust…the one that JK & Bronagh sold shares to, in Dairy, Vineyards and Property Investments, but somehow don’t know what is in the trust.

      This would be the same person that was handing out PM’s pinot to the media back in 2010 and thought that a bottle of his own “J K” wine would shut up the pesky waitress.

      No questions have been asked as to how the PM can supply all this personally branded wine and not know what is in the blind trust.

    • Jerko 5.2

      Good question, WK, I was wondering how long it would take someone to work that one out. Ie Whether the trusts are in the names of other family members. Shows how thick the i people interviewing are. And for those of us who didn’t know what a Blind Trust is;

      Blind trust
      A blind trust is a trust in which the fiduciaries, namely the trustees or those who have been given power of attorney, have full discretion over the assets, and the trust beneficiaries have no knowledge of the holdings of the trust and no right to intervene in their handling. Blind trusts are generally used when a settlor (sometimes called a trustor or donor) wishes to keep the beneficiary unaware of the specific assets in the trust, such as to avoid conflict of interest between the beneficiary and the investments.

      Politicians or others in sensitive positions often place their personal assets (including investment income) into blind trusts, to avoid public scrutiny and accusations of conflicts of interest when they direct government funds to the private sector. A blind trust is often used with those who have come across a fortune within a short period of time (e.g. an inheritance, or a multimillion lottery) in order to keep their identity anonymous to the public.

      No one has questioned this issue either.

      • Kiwiri 5.2.1

        “Whether the trusts are in the names of other family members”

        Yeah, need to widen the net to include the names of his siblings and in-laws

    • Draco T Bastard 5.3


      What are the chances that the RWNJs will understand the parallels?

  6. What I want to know is why the millionaire John Key, who made his fortune by manipulating money, doesn’t have a Panama style tax dodging scheme.

    I’ll be really disappointed if he’s lost his money making mojo in recent years and has been reduced to not ripping the taxpayers of NZ off. After all, the reason he got to be leader of the National Party was because he was so incredibly successful at stuffing NZ from a distance that the Tories were keen to see him do the same back here.

    If it turns out he doesn’t have squillions tucked away in a tax haven somewhere, I think he should resign immediately for gross deception.

  7. maui 7

    I’m sure the PM has his fortune saved in Kiwibank at negligible interest for the good of the country and all that. Such an honourable nice guy would do that…

  8. Myrtle 8

    What’s the bet that Judith Collins is up to her neck in dodgy activity? Can wait to see her come clean.

  9. saveNZ 9

    +100 – I think it is only fair that John Key joins David Cameron who has done the right thing, in releasing his tax records for the last 6 years. In fact make that every year he has been drawing a PM salary.

    We all hear how comfortable and relaxed John Key is, how he would never benefit from his decisions as a PM like when he sells off NZ assets and appoints Meryl Lynch to help him, and how generous he is, as he donates his MP salary to charity. What a nice guy, (sarc) which charity?

    But we just never actually get any details and actual documents?

    Where is the transparency?

  10. greywarshark 10

    Where is this land of Reproach from which Key is beyond? Sounds like somewhere in The Pilgrim’s Progress, perhaps near the Slough of Despond!
    Slough of Despond – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The Slough of Despond is a deep bog in John Bunyan’s allegory The Pilgrim’s Progress, into which the protagonist Christian sinks under the weight of his sins …

    Samuel Butler wrote about Erewhon in NZ, which is nowhere reversed. Is this near the location of Reproach?
    This Google heading mentions Butler’s pain and suffering that underpins his book.
    But I don’t think John Key has had a similar background to traverse for a location to establish his character.
    Samuel Butler, New Zealand, and Erewhon | NZETC
    What he learnt in hardship and suffering he handed on to us in his books; his greatest work is related to it as … Erewhon—the brilliant first book of a young man


    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      I’d say that he freely transposes between 3 and 9.

      • greywarshark 10.1.1

        It would seem that the latter are applicable to public affairs more than the first two, but I see from the post that Cameron has doubt about the perimeters or parameters of public and private which are volatile boundaries.

        One week begins with No 10 insisting David Cameron’s tax affairs are a private matter. The following week starts with Cameron publishing a summary of his tax returns for the last six years.


  11. Henry Filth 11

    Tax returns need not provide a comprehensive picture of income. They certainly need not provide a comprehensive picture of wealth.

    As far as I know, if a trust pays tax on its income, then any distributions from that trust to beneficiaries are not classed as income and will thus not appear on the beneficiaries tax return.

    • greywarshark 11.1

      Lol. Lolly distribution to beneficiaries all okay? Who’d have thought that beneficiaries would be well regarded and treated. Let’s have more treats.

  12. rod 12

    I bet there are plenty of tax dodgers walking around in nappies since the Panama papers come to light.

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