The clock tower building of Auckland University

2022 Robin Oliver Tax Policy Scholarship Winners

2022 Robin Oliver Tax Policy Scholarship Winners 2560 1695 Taxpolicy

Bold and fresh ideas won the 2022 Robin Oliver Tax Policy Scholarship competition.  

The annual scholarship, given by the Tax Policy Charitable Trust (supported by TMNZ) is designed to encourage university students to think critically about tax policy in New Zealand and strive for new solutions. 

The award, worth $5000, supports one year of study for students majoring in taxation at Victoria University of Wellington or tax law at the University of Auckland.  

Students were invited to submit an essay on a challenge facing our tax system and offer a potential solution. The submissions received were inspiring and thought provoking, with two winners selected by the judging panel. 

Congratulations to Coralie Smith, at the University of Auckland and Peter Hazeldine at Victoria University of Wellington. 

Coralie investigated the lack of transparency on use of tax-exempt funds by New Zealand Charities.  

“From a policy standpoint, it is crucial to have systems in place which govern how charities are practically benefitting society with their tax-exempt funds.” says Smith. 

In her submission, she highlights the risk of providing an unfair competitive advantage to charities with ancillary businesses and identified clear gaps within New Zealand regulations to oversee if accumulated funds are being channelled to their respective charitable pillar. 

The solution – a new framework along with other resolutions such as simplifying reporting for smaller tax charities and extending advisory resources to help charities maintain their tax-exempt status. This would provide further transparency on use of tax-exempt funds whilst also reducing compliance costs for tax charities in New Zealand. 

The judging panel commended Coralie’s passion for the topic and her understanding of how tax policy fits within our wider economic system and its ability to create positive impact.  

Peter Hazeldine focused his proposal on reforms to New Zealand’s Fringe Benefit Taxation (FBT) rules. 

He articulated how existing loopholes in the legislation hinder its ability to make employers neutral between providing fringe benefits and cash remuneration to employees. This shortfall in neutrality allows employees to receive tax-free benefits which creates inequities as employees earning the same salary can be treated differently, resulting in less horizontal equity. 

The judges were impressed by Hazeldine’s research and his clear grasp of the tax policy problem.  

To overcome the issue and close these loopholes, Peter recommends using market rates as a benchmark to assess if an employee receives a fringe benefit from their employer. Changing the value calculation method will create better consistency within the legislation and improve fairness for individuals.  

To find out more about the Robin Oliver Tax Policy Scholarship and how to can apply – Victoria University of Wellington and University of Auckland.

Reflections on 30 years of tax reform – lessons from history

Reflections on 30 years of tax reform – lessons from history 2560 1707 Taxpolicy

Three former Treasury heads came together to discuss NZ’s approach to tax reform over the past 30 years, at a forum hosted by the Tax Policy Charitable Trust.

The Tax Policy Charitable Trust, funded by Tax Management New Zealand (TMNZ) aims to promote broader tax thinking for the public good, helping to shape discussion on positive tax policy for all New Zealanders.

This year, the Trust brought together three of New Zealand’s great economic leaders to discuss New Zealand’s approach to tax reform and to reflect on tax policies developed during their time as the Secretary to the Treasury.

Dr Graham Scott, Dr Murray Horn and Dr Alan Bollard led Treasury from 1986 to 2002, a period of significant change across all aspects of the New Zealand economy. Facilitated by Sir Rob McLeod, they discussed changes they oversaw during their time, and shared their views on the tax challenges and opportunities facing the country today.

The session was a great opportunity for to hear about the benefits good tax reform processes have delivered over the past three decades.

Chris Cunniffe, CEO of TMNZ said “Their shared observations on that massive period of economic change in New Zealand’s history is invaluable knowledge for young tax policy stakeholders. It was fascinating to reflect on how the tax system was restructured in that time for the better.”

The evening was attended by leaders in tax, professional services firms, public service and academia. The insightful commentary from Dr Alan Bollard, Dr Murray Horn, Dr Graham Scott and Sir Rob McLeod sparked many conversations on the current economic challenges of the country.

John Shewan, Chair of the Tax Policy Charitable Trust said “Collectively the presentations and associated Q&A shone the light on a remarkable period of New Zealand history. We can learn a great deal from history.

Young professionals expressed astonishment at Dr Graham Scott’s description of New Zealand’s situation in 1984, and at the speed and depth of reform that followed. We sometimes assume that everyone knows what happened back then, but clearly not. One of the core objectives of the Tax Policy Charitable Trust is to engender interest in policy among young professionals, and the evening achieved that in spade loads.”

Robin Oliver Tax Policy Scholarship launched

Robin Oliver Tax Policy Scholarship launched 2560 1707 Taxpolicy

A scholarship aimed at encouraging university students to think critically about tax policy has been launched by the Tax Policy Charitable Trust.

The Robin Oliver Tax Policy Scholarship is worth $5000 and available to support one year of study for those majoring in taxation at Victoria University of Wellington or tax law at the University of Auckland.

It will be awarded annually to a student at each university.

University of Auckland (Auckland) – Eligibility

University of Auckland students undertaking postgraduate study in tax law can apply if they are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and meet certain academic criteria.

Applications close 20 February. Read more about the University of Auckland eligibility.

Victoria University (Wellington) – Eligibility

Those at Victoria University must be undergraduates in at least their third year of studying taxation and a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident to be eligible.

As part of the application process, they will also have to write an essay on the challenges facing the New Zealand tax system and supply a personal statement outlining how they meet the scholarship criteria and the impact is could have on their studies.

Selection will be based on academic merit as well as the quality of their essay.

Applications close 31 July. Read more about the Victoria eligibility.

About the scholarship

The Robin Oliver Scholarship recognises tax expert and former IRD Deputy Commissioner Robin Oliver for his continued contributions to New Zealand tax policy.

The Tax Policy Charitable Trust hopes it will support and encourage university students to strive for excellence in tax policy and discover solutions to the concerns of today and the future.

The trust was established in 2012 by generous support from Ian Kuperus and Tax Management NZ.

Image: Tax Policy Scholarship Competition

2019 Tax Policy Scholarship Competition finalists

2019 Tax Policy Scholarship Competition finalists 1200 630 Taxpolicy

A negative income tax coupled with a flat tax rate for individuals and the creation of a trusted taxpayer regime.

These are among the ideas judges will hear as part of the Tax Policy Scholarship Competition.

A tax on biogenic methane emissions and freshwater as well as reforming the R&D tax credit regime are the others options on the table.

Spark’s Nigel Jemson, and the Deloitte duo of John Lohrentz and Shay Webster are this year’s finalists.

They are vying to win $10,000 prize money.

The three finalists’ proposals are an interesting mix of environmental, social assistance and behavioural messages, says Tax Policy Scholarship Competition judge and Tax Policy Charitable Trust chair John Shewan.

Photo: Tax Policy Scholarship Competition

Photo: Colin McDiarmid.

The ideas of the quartet

Jemson is pushing for the creation of a trusted taxpayer regime.

This will see businesses receive a 10 percent discounted tax rate by opting to regularly report financial information to IRD.

Anyone part of the scheme for three years or more will also have their annual tax return requirement removed.

A small business would be eligible for the scheme if they are using the accounting income method to pay provisional tax and operating a “predominantly cash-free” business.

As for Webster, he favours using tax to create a broad, universal welfare system to tackle inequality, reduce the cost of welfare and stimulate the economy.

He proposes doing this by implementing a negative income tax combined with a flat rate of 33 percent for individuals.

Under this, those earning less than $31,500 will receive a tax credit or a weekly or fortnightly cash payment from the Government.

Meanwhile, Lohrentz supports a progressive tax on biogenic methane emissions in the agriculture sector.

Revenue from the tax would go back into agricultural. That would be in the form of:

  • A fund to grant money to those changing land use, planting trees, retraining or implementing more efficient practices and technology.
  • An R&D tax credit exclusively for climate change-orientated R&D in the agriculture sector.

Not only that, but he also promotes a 40 percent R&D tax credit. This would be for taxpayers undertaking a core R&D activity that fosters ‘natural capital’ in New Zealand’s agriculture sector.

The next stage of the Tax Policy Scholarship Competition

The finalist will present to the judges in Wellington in November.

Shewan says their proposals have the potential to make a difference to New Zealand society.

Still, the judges will be considering other factors when making their final assessment. That’s because these ideas may also place additional pressure on the tax system or have unintentional consequences.

“The judging panel will be looking closely at issues such as complexity, economic impact, the potential for distortions and technical feasibility in judging the final submissions,” says Shewan.

As well as Shewan, the other judges on the panel are former Reserve Bank of New Zealand governor Alan Bollard, tax barrister David McLay, former Bell Gully tax partner Joanne Hodge and former IRD deputy commissioner Robin Oliver.

While the winner will collect $10,000, the runner-up will receive $4000 and the other finalist $1000.

Tax Policy Scholarship Competition background

Every two years, the Tax Policy Charitable Trust invites young tax professionals with an interest in tax policy to make a submission.

Submissions for the Tax Policy Scholarship Competition must outline a significant reform to the New Zealand tax system.

It is open to those under the age of 35 working (or eligible to work) in New Zealand. Those in the public and private sector or academia can enter.

There were 14 entries this year.

“Several submissions focused on the use of tax to achieve social and environmental outcomes, and to incentivise taxpayers to behave in particular ways,” says Shewan.

This is the third Tax Policy Scholarship Competition.

Previous winners include Matt Woolley and Talia Smart (both 2017) and Caleb McConnell (2015).

About the Tax Policy Charitable Trust

Tax Management NZ founder Ian Kuperus is responsible for creating the Tax Policy Charitable Trust.

His aim is to support the continuation of leading tax policy research and thinking and inspire future tax policy leaders.

In addition to the Tax Policy Scholarship Competition, the trust also sponsors the visit of a leading tax expert to New Zealand.

This is to ensure New Zealand benefits from the best tax thinking from overseas.

Last year, it held an event with Sir Michael Cullen and other Tax Working Group members after the release of its draft report.

OECD’s David Bradbury meets with IRD, Treasury

OECD’s David Bradbury meets with IRD, Treasury 620 349 Taxpolicy

The Tax Policy Scholarship Charitable Trust recently sponsored the visit by an OECD official who met with government officials to discuss the direction of tax policy changes around the world and how New Zealand might respond to these.

David Bradbury, head of the tax policy and statistics division for the Centre of Tax Policy and Administration at the OECD and a former Australian politician, was this year’s visiting lecturer.

As part of his trip, he engaged with officials from Inland Revenue and The Treasury to discuss such issues as capital gains tax, BEPS and the digital economy. He also held meetings with the Tax Working Group.

David also spoke to tax professionals at events held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The topic of his presentation was: The direction of global tax policy changes, how New Zealand sits and challenges for the future.

It was well received by attendees.

In between his various engagements, David was interviewed by several media outlets on the aforementioned tax issues:

Further information about David Bradbury

At the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, David leads a team of economists, lawyers and statisticians who are focused on providing internationally comparable revenue statistics and delivering high quality economic analysis and tax policy advice.

He served in the Australian Government as the Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs, Minister Assisting for Financial Services and Superannuation, and Minister Assisting for Deregulation before joining the OECD in 2014.

As a minister, David led the Australian Government’s contribution to the debate on BEPS and implemented key taxation reforms including the general anti-avoidance rule (Part IVA) and the modernisation of Australia’s transfer pricing laws.

About the Tax Policy Scholarships Charitable Trust

The Tax Policy Scholarships Charitable Trust was established by Ian Kuperus and Tax Management NZ to contribute to the future development of tax policy in New Zealand.

Previous visiting lecturers it has brought to New Zealand include Michael Keen, deputy director of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, and professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, Joel Slemrod.

Matt Woolley and Talia Smart named joint winners of tax comp.

Matt Woolley and Talia Smart named joint winners of tax comp. 510 307 Taxpolicy

Treasury’s Matt Woolley and Talia Smart from Inland Revenue (IRD) are the co-winners of tax policy competition run by the Tax Policy Scholarship Charitable Trust (TPSCT).

The pair impressed the heavyweight judging panel while presenting their respective proposals at Wellington’s Victoria University, receiving $7000 each for their efforts.

Woolley discussed a fully integrated tax system that attributes all company income to shareholders. Under that approach, businesses would pay tax on behalf of shareholders based on their marginal rates.

Smart’s proposal looked at removing the business income exemption for charities.

The other finalists were Chris Park (KPMG) and Nicholas Coyle (IRD).

Park’s proposal revisited the idea of a land tax, while Coyle’s presentation reconsidered the claw back of interest deductions. Both received $1000.

Presentations were judged by a panel comprising TPSCT chair and former PwC chair John Shewan, ex-Bell Gully tax partner Joanne Hodge, former IRD deputy commissioner Robin Oliver, Victoria University Business School dean Bob Buckle and ex-secretary of Treasury John Whitehead.

Competition background

Tax professionals under the age of 35 were invited by the TPSCT to submit proposals that outlined a significant reform of the tax system. Twenty-five entries were received.

The TPSCT was established in 2012 by Tax Management NZ and its founder Ian Kuperus to inspire the next generation of leaders in New Zealand tax policy and administration.