International tax law specialist Geoff Cone recently decided to address the growing interest in New Zealand’s reputation as a “tax haven.” To begin, Geoff Cone establishes a few basic premises for what constitutes a tax haven: the country must have virtually no taxes on businesses, the country must have a substantial lack of transparency, and the country must make information difficult to obtain or share with other governments. By these metrics, Geoff Cone believes that New Zealand has not, and likely never will be, a tax haven to foreign interests.
In fact, Geoff Cone points to the 2002 guidelines for the ideal exchange of information on tax matters as further proof of New Zealand’s legitimacy. When the list was first developed, it specifically listed New Zealand as a country that had properly developed a series of domestic tax laws. Furthermore, Geoff Cone goes on to highlight many of the changes to the tax laws and regulations in New Zealand that have occurred over the years, which have only served to make New Zealand’s taxing more rigorous.
This commitment to tax transparency is especially relevant to foreign trusts. Since 2006, trusts have been required by law to keep far more information on the trust’s taxes than they were previously required to. This is primarily due to Michael Cullen’s efforts, but the end result is that foreign trusts are no longer able to treat New Zealand as if it is a haven free from financial responsibilities. As a result, trusts now keep far more rigorous records than ever before.
For his part, Geoff Cone first developed an interest in international tax law while studying at the University of Otago. After graduating with LLB honors, he started his own practice in Auckland, New Zealand. During the early parts of his career, he dabbled in a number of finance-related fields, including commercial litigation, tax work, and trust advisory work. As of today, Geoff Cone’s firm, Cone Marshall Limited, remains the only New Zealand law firm to specialize in international trust and tax planning. In addition, Cone Marshall Limited provides a number of other functions to its clients through various affiliate companies, ensuring that the demands of its clients are always adequately addressed.
Beyond his reputation as an international tax law expert, Geoff Cone is also known for having considerable experience in wealth planning. In addition to a deep understanding of the intricacies of tax law in New Zealand, Geoff Cone also valuable insight into estate planning for such diverse countries as Spain, Italy, and those found in the Latin America region. It is this diversity of knowledge that has made Geoff Cone’s expertise so trusted, both within New Zealand’s legal circles and elsewhere.