Land of the large grey crowd?

Should New Zealand be a tax haven for retirees? A petition has been presented to Parliament to promote the idea – and Winston doesn’t seem to be involved.

Call for NZ to be tax haven for retirees

American Henry Work wants New Zealand to become a tax haven for financially independent retirees who have fallen in love with the place.

He reckons the country should devise a visa system for retirees who want to spend their remaining years here and provide an economic fillip to the towns they settle in.

Work moved to Nelson five years ago on a business visa and, because he wants to stay, has devised the basics of a visa category for financially independent retirees.

Local MP Nick Smith has tabled a petition in Parliament, put together by Work and signed by about 300 people, asking that the Department of Immigration investigate changes to regulations that would make New Zealand an attractive retirement hub.

The core of Work’s plan is that retirees moving here would have to pay their own way and make no call either on the benefits system (including NZ Super), or the health system. That would inject money into the economy, which is a high priority for the Government, he said.

His plan includes a possible requirement for the retirees to pay a bond in to a government-operated trust fund which would be available should they need medical treatment they are unable to directly pay for.

In return, the visa would allow the retiree to stay as long as they wanted, with freedom of entry and exit at will, just as other New Zealanders have.

He would like to see them have certain civic rights like being able to vote and purchase medical insurance, and, perhaps controversially, he would ultimately like them to gain the right after a certain number of years to become eligible for permanent residency, and then citizenship.

He imagines such a system would naturally exclude those with certain criminal convictions, as well as those in poor health, and the retirees would be taxed only on income arising in New Zealand. They would also pay tax through the GST system, and other levies.

Work said the current visa system allowed overseas retirees to make short stays of three to six months without too much trouble, and for some with relatives here to even qualify to settle. Some could also buy businesses. But he felt New Zealand was missing a trick.

Would that mean we could become the Land of the large grey crowd? We’re already heading that way – Peter Dunne pointed out:

In Nelson and parts of the Bay of Islands I think it is already.

I can think of some prssible problems with this but will leave this open for coment.