In his New Zealand Herald article entitled “NZ a Model of Tax Transparency,” attorney Geoffrey Cone
outlines his argument for the ethical nature of New Zealand’s foreign trusts. Cone not only debunks the tax haven myth by illustrating how his country complies with standards created by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, but he also points out that New Zealand holds a spot on the OECD’s coveted “white list,” proving that it has largely conformed to the group’s internationally agreed standards. Besides New Zealand’s adherence to pacts signed by multilateral bodies, the country’s own international agreements are also used by Cone to bolster his case. He outlines the nation’s 39 double tax agreements, 20 tax information exchange agreements, and New Zealand’s participation in the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. As Cone points out
, these are “not the actions of a tax haven.” The author sums up his argument by praising the honesty and virtue of his colleagues in the industry, citing that many of the service providers are lawyers and accountants who are not only subject to their own government’s strict regulations but are also members of the International Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). Mr. Cone believes that he and his counterparts are part of the reason New Zealand has such a sterling reputation with the international community when it comes to foreign trusts and taxes. Instead of accusing them of creating a tax haven, the author suggests instead that the focus be on regulating trust companies to guarantee they meet the same high standards, thus further bolstering New Zealand’s excellent reputation in this area.
Geoffrey Cone is a founding partner of Cone Marshall Limited in Auckland where he specializes in international trust and tax planning. After graduating from University of Otago, New Zealand, he received an advanced degree in tax and trust law before beginning practice in 1980 and later joining a prestigious law firm in Christchurch. Cone Marshall was found in 1997 and holds the distinction of being the only New Zealand firm to focus on international trust and tax planning. Mr. Cone shares a vacation home near Jose Ignacio, Uruguay with his wife, Sarah. His favorite hobbies include entertaining family and friends, sailing his boat in the lagoon, and riding around in “Willy,” his trusty old army jeep.