Ian Kuperus’ Robin Hood-esque approach to taxation is so clever it’s amazing that it’s legal. Using the world’s first tax pooling venture he has created the means—via Tax Management New Zealand–whereby overpayments and underpayments between parties can be traded.
Over the ten years since it was launched, his company has saved over 21,000 clients more than $100 million collectively. Moreover, the ‘Sheriff of Nottingham’ in the equation—the IRD—totally approves of the process.
Even more legend making is having the amazing distinction of getting New Zealand tax law changed and then driving a business from it.
Ian has been tax oriented for most of his professional career. He began by working with the IRD in 1978 and from there moved to roles leading the tax divisions at the National Bank in 1986 and New Zealand Dairy Board (later Fonterra) in 1988.
The genesis of the tax pooling gold mine came in 1988 when the then Labour Government introduced the Use of Money (UOM) concept. Ian spotted how businesses could trade their tax positions and take advantage of interest rate differentials.
Still at the National Bank, he got his employer’s blessings and promoted the concept to the IRD and the then Minister of Revenue, Hon Trevor de Cleene. Both parties were unconvinced by how this pooling might work. This could have drowned the idea but Ian figured his time would come.
Having by then moved to the Dairy Board he gave up the security of a prominent role, leading the tax division at New Zealand’s largest and most international business, to launch his concept.
Investing substantial time and his own funds, the trick was to convince large corporates to pay their income tax through a corporate trustee, rather than directly to IRD. Without liquidity in the pool, the concept would flounder.
Given that this was a legitimate way to avoid paying the ‘hated’ UOM to IRD, the concept, and the company, soon flourished.
Ian has recently been announced as a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.