Tax Free Hideouts, Overseas Investment Thresholds, And The TPP

The government is determined to press ahead with the law changes needed to implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership as quickly as possible – before people get their heads around what is really happening. And there is plenty happening.

The Overseas Investment Office is under scrutiny for letting unsuitable buyers buy up land, and the Panama Papers indicate foreign trusts can use New Zealand as a tax haven. At present anyone, anywhere can invest up to $100 million in New Zealand without needing government approval.

Once the TPP is ratified that threshold will be raised to $200 million. Expect the concept of ‘sensitive land’ to get some serious legal scrutiny as well. Which begs the question why even bother with the Overseas Investment Office?

If the TPP is ratified, we will just have to accept that rich people and corporations will have open slather to buy up whatever they want in New Zealand. And take their profits straight out of the country to whatever tax free hideaway they are nominally based in.

Do we want New Zealand to be bought and sold by a small group of rich people and corporations? How will we maintain our infrastructure, health, and education systems if most of the profits from our labour and personal spending go out of the country without tax being deducted?

The government has indicated it is not interested in closing foreign trust loopholes or amending tax laws to ensure that money earned in New Zealand is taxed in New Zealand. It won’t even contemplate a very small financial transactions tax.

And now it wants to rush through legislation that will enable the very worst aspects of the US way of doing business to be forced on New Zealand even if the Trans-Pacific Partnership does not go ahead. It won’t if the US doesn’t ratify it.

Donald Trump doesn’t want the TPP. Hillary Clinton doesn’t want the TPP. Bernie Sanders doesn’t want the TPP. The Greens don’t want the TPP. New Zealand First doesn’t want the TPP. The Maori Party doesn’t want the TPP. Labour doesn’t want the TPP.

Why does John Key’s National government want the TPP so badly? More to the point, do all the National MPs want the TPP as much as Mr Key does? Now would be a good time break ranks and speak out. New Zealand is listening.

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