Recent press coverage of foreign trusts in New Zealand have made it seem that the country is now a tax haven. Geoffrey Cone, of the law firm Cone Marshall has debunked this in an article. The country is seeing an increase in the number of foreign trusts and assets for reasons other than being a tax haven.
If you look what makes a nation a tax haven, you will see that New Zealand is not one. Tax havens have no or marginal taxes, a lack of transparency and rules that prohibit the sharing of information with other governments about a client or trust. New Zealand does not have any of these. The country also does not have a secret private banking industry like Switzerland for example that is vulnerable to money laundering.
Instead, Geoffrey Cone argues that New Zealand is seeing an increase of trusts because it is viewed as a very safe and stable environment to hold a trust or keep assets in. A high number of skilled and highly qualified legal and financial professionals is another reason why people are flocking to New Zealand and opening up foreign trusts. People know that their trusts will be safe, secure and managed well and according to the law.
New Zealand is a party to the 2002 OECD Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters. The country also has strict record keeping laws on all foreign trusts and assets held in the country and administered from New Zealand. This makes it nearly impossible for people to launder money in New Zealand or for the country to act as a tax haven. New Zealand has one of the most transparent economies and tax systems in the world, similar to the United States and United Kingdom. Coupled with stability and security, this is why trusts are springing up here. It is not because the country is a tax haven.
One of the leading law firms that handle affairs of taxes, trusts, including foreign trusts and estates in New Zealand is Cone Marshall. The law firm is led by Karen Marshall and Geoffrey Cone. Mr. Cone is a longtime professional and expert in legal affairs with regards to taxes and estates. His partner, Karen Marshall, joined the firm in 2005.
Mrs. Marshall worked in England for 10 years before coming to New Zealand and working for Cone Marshall. Her previous job in England was a commercial litigator. She now works as an advisor to trust companies in New Zealand and has many years of managing trusts under her belt.