Tax Policy Scholarship Competition 2021

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The Tax Policy Scholarship competition is designed to support the continuation of leading tax policy research and thinking in New Zealand, and to inspire future tax policy leaders.


The 2019 competition is the third run by the Tax Policy Charitable Trust. You can download the winning entries from the two previous competitions below:


The winning entry will receive a $10,000 cash money prize. The next runner-up will receive $4,000 and the remaining two finalists will receive $1,000 each. The total prize pool is $16,000.


The competition is open to young professionals (aged 35 and under at 1 January 2019) working in New Zealand or eligible to work in New Zealand and having an interest in tax policy.

Guidelines for 2019 Competition

Entries should propose significant reform to the New Zealand tax system. Applicants should choose a topic that they believe could make a real difference to New Zealand in the context of the judging criteria set out below.

By way of example, topics could include

  • The taxation of capital gains/income-an alternative to the proposals contained in the 2019 Tax Working Group report.
  • Source and residence are the bedrocks of the New Zealand tax system, but they struggle to cope in a digital economy. How should the digital economy be taxed?
  • How to define fairness in the tax system in the context of determining if taxpayers are paying ‘their fair share of tax.’ What criterial might be applied?
  • The uses of taxes to correct behaviour-areas where corrective taxes might represent a real step forward in achieving a policy objective.
  • The role of taxes in countering climate change and other environmental issues.

These topics are for illustrative purposes only. Applicants should feel free to choose alternative subject areas.

  • The Selection Panel will be looking for creative ideas, original thinking and sound and reasoned research and analysis. Successful entries will propose a significant reform or reforms to the New Zealand tax system in terms of its bases, methods of collection, interface with taxpayers, legal framework, overall structure or administration.

    In addition to the above broad criteria proposals will be judged by reference to all or some of the following criteria-

    • Impact on the New Zealand economy, including GDP and business growth.
    • Social (including distributional equity) and environmental acceptability.
    • Feasibilty of introduction, including political and public acceptability.
    • Impact on simplicity of tax system.
    • Ease of administration by taxpayers and Inland Revenue and impact on compliance costs.
    • Quality of written presentation.
    • For finalists, quality of oral presentation.

    Applicants should avoid repeating material that is already available, including commentary and analysis from the 2019 TWG Report. However, additional analysis of such material, including contrary views if held, are encouraged but must be supported.

  • The competition comprises the following stages-

    1. Expressions of interest are required to be submitted by 5pm on Thursday 11 April 2019.
    1. Overview of proposal submitted by 5pm on Thursday 9 May 2019. A 1,500 word overview of reform proposal. The overview must enable the Selection Panel to understand the proposal and what it seeks to achieve, and to make an initial assessment of the extent to which it meets the judging criteria. The overview can be in bullet point form if preferred. Do not include power-point slides.
    1. Four finalists announced on or around Thursday 6 June 2019, at a function to be held simultaneously in Auckland and Wellington.
    1. Full proposal submitted by Thursday 12 September 2019. A 6,000 word proposal setting out full details of the recommend reform and detailed supporting analysis that covers each of the judging criteria. Do not include power-point slides.
    1. Presentations and awards on or around Wednesday 13 November 2019, commencing 5.30pm. The four finalists will be asked to present their reform proposals, and to respond to questions, to an audience of around 100 people in Wellington. Each presentation will take a total of approximately 20 minutes, including questions.  Powerpoint slides may be used.
  • The following senior professionals with tax policy expertise have been appointed by the Tax Policy Charitable Trust to assess the proposals.

    • Alan Bollard – Professor of Practice, Pacific Region Business, Victoria University of Wellington
    • David McLay – Barrister, Barristers.comm
    • Joanne Hodge – Former Tax Partner, Bell Gully
    • Robin Oliver – Director, OliverShaw
    • John Shewan – Independent Director and Professor in the Business School at Victoria University of Wellington.
    • Proposals presented by the finalists will become the property of the Tax Policy Scholarship Charitable Trust. They may be published by the Trust with credit given to the authors.
    • Finalists agree to be part of the publicity for the awards.
    • The decision of the Selection Panel will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
    • Any tax obligations in relation to the prizes will be for the recipients to settle. Prizes are expected to be tax free.
    • Finalists living in New Zealand but outside of Wellington will have their airfares and accommodation paid to attend the awards evening in November.
    • Finalists living outside New Zealand must be available to attend the awards evening in November. Airfares and accommodation will be capped at $700.