Four bright young industry minds have emerged as finalists in this year’s Tax Policy Scholarship Competition, an annual prize hosted by the Tax Policy Charitable Trust.
The biannual competition, which supports the continuation of leading tax policy research and thinking in New Zealand, enters its fourth round in 2022. The first competition was run in 2015.
The scholarship is designed to inspire the next generation of tax industry leaders. This year, entrants under the age of 35 were invited to propose significant reforms to our current tax system or analyse potential weaknesses and unintended consequences from existing laws, and propose changes to address them.
Entrants were asked to tackle one of three topics: environmental taxation, tax administration, or the powers granted to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue to collect information for tax policy purposes. Participants were invited to address the topics with creative ideas backed up by reasoned research and analysis.
We are delighted to announce the four finalists for this year’s competition, selected by our panel of leading tax industry professionals.
Daniel is a Senior Consultant with EY in Wellington. He has proposed the introduction of a small business consolidated reporting regime to simplify tax reporting for small companies.
The regime would consolidate pre-existing tax obligations into a single report to be filed every second month. Inland Revenue would send an automated income summary out at the end of the year, similar to those currently prepared for individuals.
Mitchell is a Tax Solicitor with Mayne Wetherell in Auckland. Mitchell is concerned that the recently-expanded powers granted to Inland Revenue to collect information for tax policy purposes could create unintended consequences.
He believes the new powers risk political interference, conflicting with the IR’s need to be politically neutral. Mitchell proposes identifying alternative means to collect this information, including through Statistics New Zealand.
Vivien is Group Tax Advisor with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, and finance lead with the Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Foundation.
Vivien proposes to change New Zealand’s environmental practices through the introduction of an impact-weighted tax regime. Under this model, organisations would be taxed on their net positive or negative impact on the environment.
Jordan is a Senior Tax Consultant with ASB in Auckland.
Jordan believes the tax policy landscape is fractured, and suffocated by political roadblocks. His proposal is to establish an independent statutory authority that would be responsible for the independent management of fiscal policy, as it relates to the tax base.
Selecting a winner
The finalists were announced on 2 June, and each will go on to develop a 4,000-word submission on their proposal.
The four will be invited to present their final proposals and answer questions at a function in October 2022. The winner will be announced that evening.
Our Tax Policy Scholarship Competition celebrates creative thinking from young professionals and also provides a springboard for the brightest industry minds to develop their careers.
Nigel Jemson, the winner of the 2019 competition, says: “Entering the competition was a terrific opportunity for me to grow and develop my tax policy thinking and connect with leading minds in the tax community. Winning the competition has given my career a boost and since, I have enjoyed a range of great roles in tax for leading businesses, Spark and PwC, and continued my involvement in and passion for New Zealand tax policy.”
Chris Cunniffe, Tax Policy Charitable Trust Committee Member and TMNZ Chief Executive, says this year’s entries underline the strength of the next generation.
“We’re consistently delighted with the breadth and the freshness of thinking young people bring to this competition. The competition provides a forum to share ideas, and secondly, ensures that creative tax policy is not the sole domain of people who have worked in the industry for a long time. As an industry, we are open to fresh thinking and new ideas.”
Tax Policy Charitable Trust Chair John Shewan says the entries prove the industry’s future is in good hands.
“New Zealand has been very fortunate to have so many competent tax leaders involved in developing policy for the betterment of our country. It’s very exciting to be around the next generation of future tax policy influencers, who are already, at a young age, focused on innovative opportunities to enhance the tax landscape.”
Michelle Redington, Chief Tax Counsel at Inland Revenue, who was the guest speaker at the event where the four finalists were announced, says it is fantastic to see the Tax Policy Charitable Trust create opportunities for the next wave of tax policy thinkers.
“Throughout my career, I have been very lucky to be supported by some of New Zealand’s preeminent tax leaders, who have been fantastic teachers and mentors,” she says. “I’ve enjoyed a diverse career in tax, spurred on by a need to solve complex problems, and I’m proud to be able to give back to the next generation of talented tax enthusiasts.”
Find out more about the Tax Policy Scholarship Competition, here.