IRD chasing students, not speculators

Newsroom report that IRD have 64 staff dedicated to chase up student loan repayments from people who have moved overseas, and none working solely on property speculators who ignore the bright line test.

I don’t think it is this simple, but this does look like a system slanted against students and easy on speculators.

Newsroom: IRD chases students while speculators go free

In spite of the bright-line test having an incredibly low compliance rate, Inland Revenue has no full-time staff chasing property investors who fail to pay what they owe.

The test, which came into effect in late 2015, is designed to crack down on property speculation by automatically taxing profit made on the sale of residential property (other than the main home). Initially it applied to property sold within two years of purchase but earlier this year the Government passed legislation extending it to property sold within five years.

Nearly one in three eligible property investors fails to comply with the test and documents released to Newsroom under the Official Information Act show the compliance rate is worsening. A report given to Revenue Minister Stuart Nash in May estimated bright-line test compliance could be lower than 50 percent. 

Despite this, the IRD has not, in the three years since the bright-line test was implemented, established a team for chasing non-compliance and recovery.

Information released under the OIA to Newsroom said the IRD did not have dedicated teams for bright-line recovery nor did it have a separate budget for bright-line recovery activity. Instead existing staff were used to track down people who had not filed a return for possible tax due under the bright-line test.

In contrast:

This stands in stark contrast to the student loan system, which has 64 staff chasing borrowers who have moved overseas and are behind on their repayments. The team had a budget of $2.245 million for the period July 1, 2017 to January 2018.

This sits on top of more than 3000 staff across IRD involved in some way with compliance activity and debt recovery, including chasing overdue student debt.

The 64 staff employed by the student loan team are “predominantly” tasked with tracking down more than 75,000 overseas borrowers who collectively owe $1.2 billion dollars, according to the latest report from IRD. 

Tax on property speculation is a part of whole tax obligations for those dealing in property, so could be picked up through general tax checks, but it does seem odd that more focus isn’t put on it, given the current and last Governments’ talk on cracking down on property speculation.

IRD advised against good looking racehorse tax break

IRD advised against giving tax breaks to the race horse breeding industry nine years ago, as they did recently, this time warning it could cost ten times what Winston Peters has suggested. But the Government went ahead with the only tax cut included in this year’s budget.

Stuff: Officials warned against racing tax breaks

Inland Revenue officials have warned against tax breaks for the racing industry, saying they could cost the Crown up to $40 million in lost revenue – but the Government is proceeding regardless

NZ First and its leader Winston Peters had been backed at the election by prominent racing industry figures, who demanded those bloodstock tax breaks, as well as an all-weather track and control of the NZ Racing Board.

Peters’ policy was a big win for the racing industry, because they had failed to convince the previous National Government to implement the tax relief. Inland Revenue documents seen by Stuff warn of the potential for race horse owners to game the system.

Officials saw no need for tax relief to the industry, but worked on tax rule changes with tighter restrictions. But that policy was dismissed by industry players just before the election.

Peters’ policy allows tax deductions for an investor who buys a race-horse and declares an “intention to breed for profit.” He said it would cost $4.8m.  He’d previously tried to introduce the deductions when racing minister in the previous Helen Clark government.

Details of Peters’ new policy are vague. But a strikingly similar proposal was advanced by the Racing Board last year. Officials cautioned against it because the deductions could be claimed even if a breeding business never eventuated.  The Racing Board believed the policy would cost around $5 million a year.

IRD didn’t accept that figure and put the cost at around $40 million a year because it had the potential to apply to an extra 7000 horses a year.

My mother loved horses and every one of them looked good to her. It wouldn’t be hard to find someone who has an eye for good looking horses – which could be any that apply for the tax break.

I don’t know where the ‘7,000 horse a year’ come from – NZ Racing: “In 2015-16, the industry produced 3500 foals and exported 1700 horses”.

Stuff;

Former Revenue Minister Judith Collins confirmed she couldn’t reach agreement with the Racing Board. She said a 2013 court case involving IRD and a racing syndicate, known as Drummond vs the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, made it difficult to implement the tax breaks that the industry was asking for.

“I wouldn’t have or couldn’t have opened up a complete change in policy without actually complying with the law. The law was pretty clearly stated in [that case] that just buying a horse and hoping you might breed from it one day was not actually a business.”

Collins said she would be “deeply surprised” if Peters wasn’t given the same advice. “It does smack of a lack of rigor when it comes to policy development.”

A similar claim from former revenue Minister Peter Dunne.

Peters said:  “The same arguments against bloodstock tax rules were raised during my previous tenure as Racing Minister, they were false then and they are false now.  The evidence comes from when the previous Finance Minister Michael Cullen agreed to a similar approach and the positive impact that generated for the industry.

What would the IRD and previous Revenue ministers know.

“There are legitimate reasons bloodstock tax investment helps create investment in horse racing which in turn will generate greater revenue for the taxpayer.  It will become fiscally positive.

“The National Party has been naïve and poorly managed the racing industry, nor did it maintain the previous rules on tax write downs.  The racing industry has become at best static and has not been achieving its genuine potential. The bloodstock tax write downs announced in Budget 2018  help attract new investors to the breeding industry.  And next year’s Yearling sales at Karaka will be one to watch.”

Peters’ party got vocal and financial support at the election from industry players. ​

With the tax breaks he has given them there could be more spare cash available for donations and campaign assistance.

See Bloodstock tax rules to change

Minister for Racing Winston Peters today announced changes to bloodstock tax rules for the New Zealand racing industry as part of Budget 2018.

“The Budget allows $4.8 million over the next four years for tax deductions that can be claimed for the costs of high-quality horses acquired with the intention to breed”.

“These changes mean that a new investor in the breeding industry will be able to claim tax deductions for the costs of a horse as if they had an existing breeding business. To qualify, the horse must be a standout yearling.”

Yearlings don’t race. I don’t know how it will be decided if a yearling is a stand out so it qualifies for the tax break. This hadn’t been decided by budget time a month ago.

Stuff: NZ First gets tax change for race horse investors through the gates

Each yearling would need to be assessed based on the “virtue of its bloodlines, looks and racing potential”.

“Further consultation with the industry will be undertaken to finalise policy settings, draft legislation and set up administrative processes,” a statement released by Peters said.

Will IRD get to determine “virtue of its bloodlines, looks and racing potential”, or will ‘the industry’ be allowed to decide this for themselves?

IRD paid for Spinoff articles

Commercial media have to find ways of getting revenue for their work, but there have been a questionable series of articles tax articles at The Spinoff, funded by IRD to the tune of $40,000, according to OIA discoveries by the Taxpayers’ Union.

Tax Villains: The Spinoff Breach $40,000 Agreement With IRD

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that The Spinoff have broken the terms of their agreement with IRD to publish content in their Tax Heroes project.

The Tax Heroes project, which featured a number of articles from writers associated with The Spinoff, intended to highlight the public good of paying taxes, and in doing so promote compliance with tax obligations among the public.

Due to an official information request, the Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that The Spinoff was paid $40,000 ($46,000 including GST) by the IRD to publish the series.

The IRD is required to be politically neutral – especially so for matters currently under consideration by Sir Michael Cullen’s Tax Working Group.

The Spinoff’s contract with the IRD specifically states: The Spinoff agrees not to refer to any political party or their policies in the content.

However, an IRD-branded article by Maria Slade, published on 31 March, ignores the contractual obligation.

This article, titled Why the lack of a capital gains tax is letting property companies off lightly, names Labour along with a click baity baby reference, in the same sentence as it mentions a capital gains tax:

Whether New Zealand should introduce a capital gains tax is set to be almost as hot a topic in Labour’s first term as the prime minister’s pregnancy.

The Taxpayers’ Union claims:

The article “Why the lack of a capital gains tax is letting property companies off lightly” advocates for a Green Party policy, a capital gains tax, violating the agreement.

I thought it was also a Labour party policy. A quick check id Labour’s Tax Plan proves this.

  • Set up a Tax Working Group, to ensure that there is a better and fairer balance between the taxation of income and assets, in particular the capital gain associated with property speculation.

The fact that IRD funded articles like this at at The Spinoff, and how many articles were funded, are also potential issues.

Other overtly political articles bear the ‘Tax Heroes’ tag, but without IRD branding. IRD and The Spinoff must explain whether any of these articles were paid for with taxpayer funds.

If not, and IRD funding was only used for the articles labeled ‘partner content’, then the cost per article was approximately $6,600 – which seems extraordinary.

If Whale Oil had been found to have been paid to post things favourable for National last term, or NZ First this term (they haven’t been as far as I’m aware), I’m sure there would be some jumping up and down in some quarters.

It seems odd to me that IRD would pay substantial amounts of money for online media posts promoting the paying of tax regardless of whether agreements were violated.

Watson’s holding company facing IRD demands

Sometimes IRD does go after the rich.

NZH: Tax man chases Eric Watson’s firm for $60m

Eric Watson’s holding company is facing demands to pay $60 million in back taxes after Inland Revenue decided its complex network of related-party loans and Cayman Island vehicles amounted to tax avoidance.

The high-profile expatriate businessman… faces the prospect of the tax bill indirectly taking a chunk of his estimated $450m fortune.

The tax claims, which have worked their way through the High Court at Auckland over the past two years, are set down for a full airing at a three-week trial starting on August 27.

Watson is not being personally chased, with IRD making its claims against his holding vehicle Cullen Group. Justice Mark Woolford noted in a pre-trial ruling that “before the arrangement at issue, Mr Eric Watson personally held all the ordinary shares”.

The tax claim is being contested, with Watson’s Cullen Group arguing its actions were not only legal, but intended to be legal by Parliament when the relevant tax legislation was passed.

Not surprising that it’s contested.

The restructuring saw a complex chain of loans and share transfers between entities – with Watson making $291m in loans to Cullen Group to enable the sale of his Cullen Investments shares, then assigning these loans to two Cayman Island companies – that Inland Revenue alleges served no purpose except to avoid paying $59.5m in tax.

“The Commissioner alleges that this was a tax avoidance arrangement,” Justice Woolford summarised in his ruling.

Justice Woolford said Inland Revenue claimed the manoeuvre was “not a genuinely arms-length transaction” but was instead “contrived” and “carefully designed” to ensure the interest payments involved qualified to pay only a 2 per cent levy instead of 15 per cent non-resident withholding tax.

Watson recently sold the NZ Warriors league franchise, reported to be in the region of $18m.

 

Questions over ‘no surprises’ policy

Audrey Young writes Peters’ case highlights an abuse of the ‘no surprises’ policy

No story with Winston Peters at the centre of it was ever going to be a one-day wonder.

And it just got a whole lot more serious.

There are disturbing and unanswered questions about his superannuation overpayment, whether you think he is the victim of a media beat-up, or are not willing to accept his assurance it was an error without proof.

The Government is now at the centre of the controversy after an admission by Social Development Minister Anne Tolley to the Herald.

She said she was told on August 15 by an official about MSD’s private meeting with Peters and what the subject of the meeting was – well after the meeting, well after he had paid back the money.

She was technically told under the “no surprises” policy, in which the public service chiefs and SOE boards forewarn ministers of issues that could suddenly become news and which will require their response. The “and” is important.

The fact that Tolley is unwilling to discuss the issue any further because it is a private matter is evidence enough that she should not have been told in the first place.

It is an abuse of the no-surprises policy. No minister should have been privy to that sort of information any more than the Health Minister should receive reports on any hip replacement operation Peters might have.

If Tolley had no expectation of receiving such information, she should say so publicly and conclude that the ministry’s decision was a misjudgment.

If she doesn’t, it is safe to assume that she and ministers have created an expectation they should get information like that.

This on it’s own is an important issue.

But, especially with Peters on the warpath, there are possible serious repercussions in the short term.

What Tolley did with the information is not yet clear, nor how far up the chain it went and whether National’s black ops guys are back in business.

But the very fact it was fed to the Beehive will cause suspicion by Peters that National leaked the information to discredit him.

It was obvious that some suspicion would fall on National. So if someone in National is responsible for the leak it would have been very stupid – stupid isn’t uncommon when politics gets dirty.

If National are found to be responsible, or even just widely perceived to have probably been involved, it could be very damaging for their election chances, and for their chances of negotiating a coalition with Winston Peters.

Other possibilities shouldn’t be ruled out. Because it was predictable that National would be implicated they could have been set up here.

I don’t think Winston has has embarrassed himself.

Who would do that? Who has been gunning for National and English for months?

Yesterday morning on Whale Oil Face of the Day:

But what you have here is one of Bill English’s failed hit jobs.  Leaked via Tolley, the NZ Herald has tried to make it stick.

Don’t you love election time?

Oh, and it’s not dirty politics if they don’t use blogs.

That’s an accusation yesterday that it was “leaked via Tolley”. Even if it was someone seems to have leaked that information to Whale Oil. They could just have easily leaked straight to Whale Oil.

And being unable to resist bragging Whale oil has more today: “The Herald can reveal” something Whaleoil published yesterday

It was leaked to “the media” days after it was “leaked to Whaleoil”.   We sat on it for the weekend, but first thing Monday morning, we wrote…

…what I have quoted above.

And as we know about the New Zealand Herald, first they will take the leak and make it a story and then they make the leaker a story.  Two stories for the price of one, especially when the first hit fails.  Winston ends up being the victim here instead of the villain.

God what a bunch of amateurs on the 9th floor.  Especially Eagleson.  You’d think he’d have learned a thing or two back in the day.   It seems not.

Now they are all running for cover and doing Sgt Shultz impressions.  And you know what I always say:  It’s not the original offence, it’s the cover-up that gets you.   

Anne Tolley will have been told she’ll be looked after if things get too bad.   You see, it’s never the likes of Eagleson or English that will go down for this.  Releasing private MSD information on a political opponent is a career ending move.  And Tolley was told to do it.

Whenever John Key phoned he always made sure that I was to know that if Wayne called me that he was for all intents and purposes the same as Key… He would say “When Wayne speaks he speaks for me”.

So now Tolley has been told to hang in there.  She’ll be ok.  Just  look how that worked out for Jason Ede and Todd Barclay.

She has this morning to throw Eagleson under the bus and save her career.   Doubt she will have the smarts to do it.

Bill English is causing a lot of stress inside National.  As I predicted he is effing up the unlosable election and loyalty becomes paper-thin once people feel their own jobs are on the line.

If I knew about this before the Herald did, just think about how unhappy the people around Bill must be.

Of course, I decided to sit on it for a bit.   No point helping Bill out.  He’s too busy working his way into opposition.  Attacking Winston Peters like this has all but assured a Labour/NZ First government.

And I say this without a trace of smugness or satisfaction:  you all didn’t believe me.  You thought it was personal.  I told you Bill English is exactly what you are seeing now.  He was the wrong man for the job.   And I will not vote for National while he is in charge of it.   The man is not capable of being a party leader.

His real problem is that he’s lost the confidence of his team.  I knew days before the Herald knew.  And the Herald was leaked to as well.   These are the hallmarks of a power structure crumbling and falling to dust.

Whale Oil claims it was leaked to them first and they did nothing with it. That seems out of character going by past attention seeking.

They could be right, they could have been informed before anyone else, did nothing about it and waited to let it all turn to custard, then claim bragging rights afterwards.

If so then National deserves to be dumped in disgrace.

But at this stage I would prefer to keep an open mind on who is responsible.

What is most credible?

That National would blatantly abuse privacy in a political hit job knowing the spotlight would be on them, and knowing there was a huge political risk?

Or that Whale Oil would bring down the Government they have openly been trying to undermine and destroy for years – pretty much since National cut Cameron Slater loose after Dirty Politics broke during the last election campaign.

Slater has been noticeably out of the political loop for a long time, but suddenly he claims to know everything that has happened and everyone responsible.

That flashes some warning lights to me. he has a habit of throwing around incriminating and false claims.

There’s certainly dirty politics going on here. What’s not so clear is who is actually responsible.

There is a lot to clear up here. One that could do with clarification – Tolley is MSD. Peters claims that the leak came from IRD.

Peters pursuing Super leaker

Winston Peters is trying to find out who leaked the information about him being overpaid superannuation for a number of years.

There is some irony in the king of leak-mongers getting so upset over a leak but Peters as some justification for being grumpy.

There has been a lot of speculation about who leaked and who was responsible for circulating the leak to media. Inevitably ‘dirty politics’ has been suggested.

On Monday morning in an interview with RNZ Peters, referring to a conversation with Newshub’s Lloyd Burr, said “he did drop, what I did know or did suspect but he dropped it, the informant was IRD”.

Newshub now report:  Anne Tolley given heads up over Winston Peters’ pension overpayment

Newshub can reveal Social Development Minister Anne Tolley was given an early heads up about Winston Peters being overpaid superannuation.

Mr Peters met with the Ministry of Social Development on July 15 – one month later, on August 15, Ms Tolley was alerted under the No Surprises Act.

Newshub received an anonymous phone call just three days later on August 18. Ms Tolley says the leak did not come from her office.

So it took over a week for the story to come out.

Now the New Zealand First Leader is on the warpath, sending out investigators to try and find the source who leaked he was overpaid superannuation.

Stuff:  Winston Peters has investigators working on who leaked info about his pension overpayment

NZ First leader Winston Peters says he won’t stand by and let someone get away with “blatant dirty politics” after information about his superannuation overpayment was leaked.

“Someone decided they would break the law and leak it in a political way and some of those tweets and other comments point to knowledge out there that it was malicious and politically dirty,” Peters told media following a candidates meeting in Northland on Monday night.

“I’ve been flat out, as you know, on the campaign of issues and when I’ve got time I’ll turn my mind to it, but I’m not going to stand by and let someone get away with blatant dirty politics and breaking the law.”

Peters said he had investigators working on uncovering the leak and would let the public know who it was – “I’ve got my deep suspicions”.

He has a right to try to find out who breached his privacy.

But again, it’s highly ironic that Peters is so affronted by being embarrassed by a leak, when he has so often used leaks and even hints of leaks to embarrass political opponents.

He knows how to play dirty politics as well as anyone.

Peters seemed very flustered in interviews when this story broke, and it is highly embarrassing for him, so it seems very unlikely he would have ‘leaked’ this story himself to try to get some media attention and some voter sympathy.

But when politics gets dirty nothing should be ruled out.

Arrest over student loan debt

The Herald ‘understands’ that a woman has been arrested at Auckland airport trying to fly to Australia over a student loan debt.

Woman arrested at airport over student loan debt

The woman was arrested at Auckland Airport as she tried to board a flight to Australia on Tuesday, the Herald understands.

She appeared in Manukau District Court on Wednesday.

An Inland Revenue spokesman confirmed an arrest warrant was executed by police this week.

Taxpayer secrecy prevented the release of more details.

Some say this is draconian butIRD says they only use arrest as a last resort.

“Our powers to arrest at the border are used as a very last resort, and would only follow strenuous efforts to contact the borrower to make repayment arrangements – these would typically involve making phone calls, sending correspondence via mail and email to the borrower, and attempting to contact them via any third parties such as nominated persons and/or any known employer.”

It’s tough, but as much as anyone wants to argue about paying for tertiary education and the student loans system all those who take on a student loan should be aware of their responsibilities of keeping in touch with IRD and in in repaying the loan as and when required.

It is the harshest in a range of measures to recoup student debt from overseas Kiwis. Last year those based overseas made up 15 per cent of all borrowers, but 74 per cent of borrowers with overdue payments, and had 90 per cent of the amount overdue.

Those in default and living in Australia will come under more scrutiny from next month, when a transtasman information-sharing agreement begins. It will cover contact details of student loan borrowers living in Australia.

That could see thousands more borrowers receive warning notices. Accurate contact information is crucial, as a district court judge can issue an arrest warrant only if satisfied a person is knowingly avoiding repayment obligations.

The majority of overseas-based student-loan borrowers live in Australia. Legislation allowing the information-sharing passed last month.

There are about 112,000 overseas-based student-loan borrowers, and roughly 70 per are in default.

Tougher measures seem to be affective.

In January, Cook Islands man Ngatokotoru Puna, 40, was arrested as he tried to leave New Zealand.

Over the first two months of this year there was a 31 per cent increase in repayments by overseas-based borrowers, compared to the same period last year, with $7 million more received.

Emails to IRD were up 62 per cent, and phone calls increased by 55 per cent.

Inland Revenue believe that the publicity around the first arrest at the border contributed to the increased activity.

Some will find this additional information sharing and chasing up of loans tough but being in touch with IRD is the best way to deal with it.

Authorities say those in default should make contact with Inland Revenue, to arrange a repayment agreement or discuss hardship plans if in financial difficulty. Applying for an arrest warrant is a “last resort”, the IRD says.

Provisional tax alternative

Just about anyone who has been involved in running a business will have grumped about provisional tax. It seems to be widely hated.

Yesterday John Key made a pre-budget announcement that signalled the introduction of an alternative pay-as-you-go way of paying company tax, as long as your turnover is less than $5 million.

The Government’s official announcement:

BUDGET 2016: SME-FRIENDLY TAX PACKAGE
BY HON BILL ENGLISH, HON MICHAEL WOODHOUSE

An SME-friendly tax package announced by the Prime Minister today will reduce compliance costs and make tax simpler for small businesses, Finance Minister Bill English and Revenue Minister Michael Woodhouse say.

“The package will make paying tax easier and more certain, reduce the burden of interest and penalties, and help small businesses tailor payments to their circumstances,” Mr English says.

“We want the tax system to fit in with how businesses operate, not the other way around.”

Key measures in the proposal are that:

  • Provisional tax is being reformed, with a new pay-as-you-go option giving up to 110,000 small businesses a way to pay tax as they earn income from 1 April 2018.
  • Use-of-money interest will be eliminated or reduced for the vast majority of taxpayers.
  • Contractors will be able to choose a withholding tax rate that suits their needs, rather than one being set for them.
  • The ongoing 1 per cent monthly penalty will be scrapped from 1 April 2017 for new debt – although immediate penalties and interest charges for late payments will continue to apply.

Mr Woodhouse says the changes are part of a wider business transformation programme which will support the use of new technology to make it easier to deal with Inland Revenue.

“Around 30 to 40 per cent of businesses currently use cloud-based accounting software. This is expected to grow to 85 to 90 per cent in the next 10 years.

“This package allows small businesses to pay provisional tax through their accounting software, rather than having a separate process for their taxes.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the New Zealand economy. We want to help them spend more time focused on their business, not their taxes.”

The package is expected to cost $187 million over four years.

To find out more, and to provide comment on the proposals, visit www.makingtaxsimpler.ird.govt.nz. Submissions close on 30 May.

This should be welcomed by many people running small businesses – and software providers who should get more business out of providing a means of simplifying tax payments in conjunction with Inland Revenue.

Not-a-haven-but-with-haveny-bits

NZ Herald supports John Key’s repeated claim that New Zealand is not a tax haven, but they point out that the tax-haveny bits create at least a bit of a perception problem for the Government and the country.

Tax revelations cast Key’s Jersey comments in awkward light

New Zealand is not a tax haven. John Key, Michael Woodhouse and the rest are right about that. We are no Jersey or Panama or Bahamas. But we do display a few tax haveny characteristics. Think of it like the Henderson Countdown. The Henderson Countdown is not a pharmacy. That’s a ridiculous suggestion. Plain as anything, the Henderson Countdown is a supermarket. But it does have a pharmacy in it.

For confirmation of the not-a-haven-but-with-haveny-bits status, take a look at the numerous websites, ranging from the clumsy to the slick, that advertise our foreign-trust set-up to the world.

An outfit called Offshore Simple, for example, in promoting a Vanuatu-NZ hybrid package, announces, “New Zealand is not well known as a tax haven, and this is a major advantage.” For the “low, low price of just US$1499” up front, Offshore Simple can deliver “a tax elimination structure from a reputable country that is not regarded as a tax haven”.

When New Zealand is advertised as a tax haven it’s more than a perception problem.

The Prime Minister has dug in his heels this week, refusing to countenance any rule change around foreign trust disclosure, despite the IRD flagging the issue as a potential reputational problem in 2013.

That was Key’s initial reaction. Once he rides out the initial storm and assesses the potential damage it wouldn’t be out of character for him to spin on his dug in heels and do a bit of a u-turn.

There is nothing in the Mossack revelations to make Key squirm like his counterparts in Russia, Iceland and the UK. But it does cast an awkward light on his earlier flirtations with the prospect of turning New Zealand into a global financial services hub ” an idea he’d abandoned by 2012, when he told media it wouldn’t be a sensible investment of public money.

There’s no smoking Mossack gun pointed at New Zealand – yet.

But there’s egg on New Zealand’s trust face and that could turn rotten if Key doesn’t take the risks seriously and be seen to do something to address them.

New Zealand is not a tax haven but the haveny bits don’t look flash and could blow up into a bigger problem if left unaddressed.

Winston Peters – whinebox

After being ejected from Parliament for second day in a row Winston Peters has followed up with a press release.

‘Deja vu for politics and the IRD’

Today’s proceedings at Question Time in Parliament on the IRD’s treatment of foreign trusts show that the National Party has learned nothing, says New Zealand First Leader and Member of Parliament for Northland Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“When I made allegations about the IRD’s illegal behaviour with respect to the Winebox allegations the IRD flatly denied that was a fact and the National Party did their utmost to cover up countless cases of fraud on our revenue.

Many of countless personalities are back at it again.

“We launched the Winebox inquiry using the misinterpretation of the Magnum transaction, and then went on to other transactions, all of which, after long parliamentary and legal proceedings, were proved to be correct.

“[Name removed] was the IRD officer put in charge of investigating the Magnum transaction and he found no illegality. Worse still, he had to admit at the Winebox inquiry that a minister was giving an assurance of investigations having been commenced one month before they actually did.

“The same [name removed] is now in charge of investigating the effect of the Panama Papers on New Zealand’s reputation for being a tax haven. He has already said that our laws are a world leading model and that of the 12,000 transactions investigated there have been few problems.

“Ministers likewise have given assurances that all is well with our law when Treasury and MBIE have said otherwise as have serious international commentators and tax experts.

“Today’s proceedings in parliament today were a disgrace with ministers allowed to say anything and everything to involve themselves in a cover up just like they did back in the Winebox days.

“Back then, Bill English was a senior minister, Treasury trained, and then, as now, knew and knows all about this fraudulent behaviour.

“New Zealand First wishes to make it very clear that no amount of deceit, obfuscation and bullying is going to deter us from our public duty.

“More and more information is coming to us as we speak and if all sections of the present administration and their appointees even dream they are going to win this battle they should wake up and apologise.

“All sections of the public, including National voters, deserve far better than this.

“How someone who showed such incompetence in the Winebox inquiry should now be trusted to properly conduct this present inquiry is simply beyond me,” Mr Peters said.

I’m not going to publish the name of the public servant peters is attacking here.

The ‘winebox’ inquiry was about twenty years ago (it began in 1994). I struggle to see how much relevance it has now except for perhaps giving Peters a chance to relive his glory days.

This looks little more than a rant from Peters that struggles with coherence or clarity.