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NZ isn't a tax haven: report

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/06/2016

New Zealand isn't a tax haven, the independent review of foreign trust rules has concluded.

It has also decided the country's reputation hasn't suffered much from intense publicity around the Panama Papers.

The government appointed tax expert John Shewan to review the rules after the Panama Papers were released and his report was issued on Monday.

During the political debate around the Panama Papers opposition parties insisted the country was being used as a tax haven, which the government denied.

"The tax treatment of foreign trusts ... does not result in New Zealand being a tax haven under established OECD rules," the report said.

It notes that one media report said New Zealand's reputation had suffered "a huge blow" as a consequence of the Panama Papers, and other statements suggested long-term reputational damage.

"The inquiry's review of international media on the topic does not support that conclusion," the report says.

"With the exception of a small number of articles in the Australian media, references to New Zealand in the international press appear to have been cursory."

The report says greater reputational damage occurred domestically because of an incorrect conclusion that wealthy New Zealanders could use foreign trusts established here to avoid paying tax.

"The foreign trust regime cannot be used in this way," it said.

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