Category: New Zealand

New Zealand Not A Tax Haven, Says International Trust Law Expert Geoff Cone

Many wealthy people leave trusts to their children. A trust is a financial arrangement in which a person leaves his or her wealth with a third-party, known as a trustee, instead of directly transferring that wealth to their beneficiaries when they die. There are a variety of benefits to setting up a trust as opposed to a will.

One of the main benefits of setting up a trust to leave your wealth behind is that trusts are generally taxed less than estates left through a will. In the US, for example, there is a hefty estate tax for wealthy citizens. The estate tax is a cut that the government takes from your wealth before it transfers to your children. Trusts can avoid much of this estate tax, especially if it is setup overseas in a tax haven.

Tax haven countries are used by wealthy citizens in order to hide their money from any taxes that their own government might impose. Good tax havens lack transparency or any regulation at all. On top of this requirement, tax haven countries also have very poor regulatory communication with other countries. So, if your country of residence is investigating your wealth, the tax haven where you hid your money will not aid in that investigation.

Many New Zealanders are worried that New Zealand has become a tax haven due to the influx of trusts setup by foreigners lately. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, says Geoff Cone, a longtime New Zealand tax attorney. Geoff claims that New Zealand has some of the best tax regulation on earth. It is even recognized internationally for its tax oversight. The country also boasts scores of communication pacts with other countries, allowing foreign governments to easily investigate any trusts setup in New Zealand.

Geoff Cone claims that the influx of trusts being setup in New Zealand is because of all the wonderful regulation in the country. The transparency and economic stability make it an ideal place to setup a trust because it can be trusted. After all, if you want to put your money in a safe place when thinking about your beneficiaries.

And Geoff Cone should know. The man has spent an entire career in Kiwi tax law and has a massive amount of experience setting up trusts, for both foreigners and New Zealanders alike. He currently runs Cone Marshall in Auckland, a tax law office.

Cone graduated from the University of Otago and moved to Auckland to gain experience in Tax Law after graduating. He then became a partner in Christchurch at a tax law firm before his career took him to the British West Indies to be a litigator for two years. He now runs the only law firm in New Zealand that works exclusively in international trust and tax planning.