What Geoffrey Cone has to Say about Foreign Trusts

In June 1954 Geoffrey Cone was born in New Zealand. It was at the University of Otago that he graduated with a law degree. His postgraduate diploma in law is a major in Tax law and trusts. He started practicing law in Auckland in 1980 only to move away to Christchurch as a partner in an established firm. At that firm he was chairman of partners. He practiced commercial litigation with particularly tax issues. Cone would later work as a litigator for two years in British West Indies. Determined to start his own firm he returned to Auckland and made a name for his firm as being among the first to specialize in trusts and tax planning.


Geoffrey, an authority in tax law, is tickled by the misconception carried in the media to the extent that New Zealand’s international trusts are gold mine owing to the tax less nature of her economy. Investors are misled to think that they will walk away rich once they invest in New Zealand.


No Tax Haven


In order for a country to qualify to be termed a tax haven its economy should bear certain traits. If an economy only has nominal taxes imposed, it can be deemed a tax less state. A lack of transparency of a state in the eyes of other states is also an indicator. States that have legislations barring the free exchange of information among states can be a haven for laundering of money. Since New Zealand cooperates with other states and has taxes imposed on products and services, it follows that she is not a tax haven according to Cone.




When a country is included in the OECD’s list of cooperative states, it means she has implemented taxation quotas as agreed internationally among states. The model agreement arrived at in 2002 is the yard stick of taxation and transparency among countries all over the world. That New Zealand features in the white list created by the OECD is a statement of her commitment to transparency.


Money Laundering


Geoffrey says that the new rules introduced in 2006 require all local trustees of international trusts to present disclosure forms. These trustees are also required by law to submit financial records in New Zealand for tax scrutiny. The balance sheet of the foreign trusts and the expenditure of the same are some of the records sought by government. Financial records also include trust deeds. With the passing of a law to curb laundering, transparency was boosted among states.



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