Image: Tax Policy Scholarship Competition

Tax Policy Scholarship Competition finalists

Photo: Tax Policy Scholarship Competition finalists

A negative income tax coupled with a flat tax rate for individuals and the creation of a trusted taxpayer regime.

These are among the ideas judges will hear as part of the Tax Policy Scholarship Competition.

A tax on biogenic methane emissions and freshwater as well as reforming the R&D tax credit regime are the others options on the table.

Spark’s Nigel Jemson, and the Deloitte duo of John Lohrentz and Shay Webster are this year’s finalists.

They are vying to win $10,000 prize money.

The three finalists’ proposals are an interesting mix of environmental, social assistance and behavioural messages, says Tax Policy Scholarship Competition judge and Tax Policy Charitable Trust chair John Shewan.


Image: Tax Policy Scholarship Competition
From left: Nigel Jemson, IRD commissioner Naomi Ferguson, former IRD deputy commissioner Robin Oliver and Tax Policy Charitable Trust chair John Shewan. Photo: Colin McDiarmid


The ideas of the quartet

Jemson is pushing for the creation of a trusted taxpayer regime.

This will see businesses receive a 10 percent discounted tax rate by opting to regularly report financial information to IRD.

Anyone part of the scheme for three years or more will also have their annual tax return requirement removed.

A small business would be eligible for the scheme if they are using the accounting income method to pay provisional tax and operating a “predominantly cash-free” business.

As for Webster, he favours using tax to create a broad, universal welfare system to tackle inequality, reduce the cost of welfare and stimulate the economy.

He proposes doing this by implementing a negative income tax combined with a flat rate of 33 percent for individuals.

Under this, those earning less than $31,500 will receive a tax credit or a weekly or fortnightly cash payment from the Government.

Meanwhile, Lohrentz supports a progressive tax on biogenic methane emissions in the agriculture sector.

Revenue from the tax would go back into agricultural. That would be in the form of:

  • A fund to grant money to those changing land use, planting trees, retraining or implementing more efficient practices and technology.
  • An R&D tax credit exclusively for climate change-orientated R&D in the agriculture sector.

Not only that, but he also promotes a 40 percent R&D tax credit. This would be for taxpayers undertaking a core R&D activity that fosters ‘natural capital’ in New Zealand’s agriculture sector.


The next stage of the Tax Policy Scholarship Competition

The finalist will present to the judges in Wellington in November.

Shewan says their proposals have the potential to make a difference to New Zealand society.

Still, the judges will be considering other factors when making their final assessment. That’s because these ideas may also place additional pressure on the tax system or have unintentional consequences.

“The judging panel will be looking closely at issues such as complexity, economic impact, the potential for distortions and technical feasibility in judging the final submissions,” says Shewan.

As well as Shewan, the other judges on the panel are former Reserve Bank of New Zealand governor Alan Bollard, tax barrister David McLay, former Bell Gully tax partner Joanne Hodge and former IRD deputy commissioner Robin Oliver.

While the winner will collect $10,000, the runner-up will receive $4000 and the other finalist $1000.


Tax Policy Scholarship Competition background

Every two years, the Tax Policy Charitable Trust invites young tax professionals with an interest in tax policy to make a submission.

Submissions for the Tax Policy Scholarship Competition must outline a significant reform to the New Zealand tax system.

It is open to those under the age of 35 working (or eligible to work) in New Zealand. Those in the public and private sector or academia can enter.

There were 14 entries this year.

“Several submissions focused on the use of tax to achieve social and environmental outcomes, and to incentivise taxpayers to behave in particular ways,” says Shewan.

This is the third Tax Policy Scholarship Competition.

Previous winners include Matt Woolley and Talia Smart (both 2017) and Caleb McConnell (2015).


Image: Tax Policy Charitable Trust


About the Tax Policy Charitable Trust

Tax Management NZ founder Ian Kuperus is responsible for creating the Tax Policy Charitable Trust.

His aim is to support the continuation of leading tax policy research and thinking and inspire future tax policy leaders.

In addition to the Tax Policy Scholarship Competition, the trust also sponsors the visit of a leading tax expert to New Zealand.

This is to ensure New Zealand benefits from the best tax thinking from overseas.

Last year, it held an event with the Tax Working Group members after the release of their draft report.


Photo: Prodigy Hair Industry's Krystle Walker

Prodigy Hair Industry cuts tax stress

Photo: Prodigy Hair Industry's Krystle Walker

Krystle Walker from Prodigy Hair Industry loves cutting and styling hair. She does not love provisional tax.

That’s why she utilises the service of TMNZ. They cut away the stress this causes her so she can focus on running and improving her salon.  

But more on that in the coming paragraphs. First, some background information.

The Prodigy Hair Industry story

Krystle is the owner and manager of Prodigy Hair Industry. It's in Upper Hutt, a city about 30 minutes outside of Wellington.

She has been plying her trade as a hairdresser for 12 years. Four of those have been at Prodigy Hair Industry.

It’s a stylish set-up she’s got on Fergusson Drive. (Yours Truly loved the décor.)

Things are humming nicely at Prodigy Hair Industry too. Seven staff on the books and a good customer base are a testament to that.

Photo: Prodigy Hair Industry

The challenges of being a business owner

Krystle is still wearing her training wheels in term of running her own business.

As she is discovering, transitioning from employee to employer is not without its challenges. There are wages to pay and hair products to purchase, among other things. Cashflow is a biggie.

Provisional tax is another challenge.

Krystle admits she is not a tax geek. Without being disrespectful, you get the sense the intricacies of tax probably do her head in. In fact, in an ideal world it would probably be something she would not have to concern herself with.

But alas, this is not an ideal world. She knows there is no escaping the clutches of the taxman. Falling out with IRD has serious repercussions too.

Taking care of provisional tax so she can take care of business

Krystle avoids any such precarious situations with TMNZ.

Her provisional tax payment plan means her tax is taken care of. She makes payments when her business cashflow permits and TMNZ applies these to the correct tax dates.

No need to worry about late payment penalties. There is interest to pay. However, this is much lower than the 8.22 percent IRD currently charges when someone doesn't pay tax on time.

“It does reduce the stress month to month. Knowing that you have got my back, I don’t have to worry about that,” she says.

It allows Krystle to get on with doing what she does best – cutting and styling hair and making sure Prodigy Hair Industry is satisfying its customers’ needs.

Photo: Prodigy Hair Industry and provisional tax
Photos: Colin McDiarmid.

“I can put 100 percent into the business and my staff.”

The concept of paying provisional tax through TMNZ was about as familiar as the Klingon dialect when her accountant first broached the idea.

But after hearing how it operates with the blessing of IRD, Krystle says it was too good to pass up.

Now she has no qualms about recommending TMNZ to others occupying a similar waka to Prodigy Hair Industry.

“It’s great, especially for small business owners.

“It just gives me the confidence with my day-to-day cashflow.”

Watch the video below to hear from Krystal about how tax pooling has provided her freedom to focus on her business, not provisional tax.

TMNZ is New Zealand’s first and largest tax pooling provider. It offers provisional tax payment plans for business of all sizes.

Cashflow survival: Dealing with terminal, provisional tax

Image: Cashflow survival - dealing with terminal, provisional taxThe months of April and May can really tax your cashflow.

Let me explain.

On 7 April, IRD expects you to pay terminal tax for the 2018 income year.

Terminal tax means a taxpayer did not pay enough provisional tax for the previous year. As such, they need to square up the difference.

To make matters worse, IRD may also be applying interest of 8.22 percent to this underpayment.

A month later, IRD will ask for more tax to be paid. This time it will be a taxpayer’s final instalment of provisional tax for the 2019 tax year.

So not one income tax payment, but potentially two. It’s hardy ideal, is it?

The cashflow challenges presented by this tax double-whammy can be a worry.

But don’t fret. Keep calm and cool. Here’s what you can do to survive the taxing months of April and May.

Don’t let the 7 April terminal tax become, er, terminal

Deal with the terminal tax first as its the oldest tax debt.

If you do not do so by 7 April, late payment penalties will kick in. You will also register a blip on the radar of IRD’s debt collection team.

That’s the last thing you want.

What if IRD is already charging interest on the terminal tax due?

You can make significant savings by paying through an approved tax pooling intermediary.

They do this by applying surplus tax paid to IRD on the date it was originally due against your liability. IRD treats this as if you paid on time, eliminating any interest and late payment penalties incurred.

They also offer an additional 75 days past your terminal tax date to settle your 2018 terminal tax.

Review your 2019 year

For many, their financial year ended on 31 March. The 7 May instalment of provisional tax is the final payment for the 2019 tax year.

Given this, you will have a rough idea if you have overpaid or underpaid income tax. Review how your business performed and adjust your payment accordingly.

After all, there is no point paying more tax than you need to, right?

Manage cashflow by paying 7 May prov. tax at a time that suits you

According to Xero’s 2018 Small Business Insights, only 42.8 percent of small New Zealand businesses were cashflow positive in May. That’s not as bad as January, but it can still be a difficult time for some.

If paying provisional tax is likely to trigger a cashflow squeeze, tax pooling can offer some payment flexibility.

It gives you the option of:

Both payment plans reduce IRD interest costs and eliminate late payment penalties.

Don’t forget

As always, make sure you have a chinwag with your accountant. The sooner, the better.

A good accountant can help you plot a course of attack and recommend solutions which work best for your business.

So, there you have it. A few pointers on what to do to ensure April and May do not tax your cashflow.

TMNZ is New Zealand’s largest tax pooling provider. For more information on how it can assist with paying provisional and terminal tax, check out our FAQs. Alternatively, phone 0800 829 888 or email our Client Services team if you have any further questions.