TMNZ turns 20 in April, celebrating two decades of innovation as the world’s first ever tax pool. Ingenuity and creative thinking have always been part of our DNA. 

TMNZ started out as an idea. Our founder Ian Kuperus, who worked for Inland Revenue and in the banking industry, recognised way back in the 1980s that businesses and the tax department were struggling with managing provisional tax payments.   

The problem was felt on both sides. Businesses didn’t know how much tax they needed to pay and nearly always ended up with a Use of Money Interest exposure which most businesses viewed as a “Use of Money Penalty”. Inland Revenue, on the other hand, had the dilemma of charging one interest rate to all taxpayers, which meant that large businesses were paying up to 14% interest when their normal borrowing cost was 7%. The situation was messy. 

Ian came up with a clever solution — which would allow businesses to trade their over and underpayments and thereby reduce their interest costs. 

After unsuccessfully pitching the concept to Trevor de Cleene. Minister of Revenue at the time, the idea went quiet for several years. Then, in 2001, IR issued a discussion document – “More Time for Business” that included a number of ideas to improve the provisional tax system. One of its suggestions? A tax pool.  

A world first

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Following IR’s review, Ian explored numerous business concepts – involving joint ventures with accounting firms, banks and other financial organisations. Eventually, he went out on his own, and in 2003, TMNZ was born. 

Ian and Wendy Kuperus join TMNZ’s brand launch celebrations, 20 years after the business began

Ian says his time working for IR, The National Bank, The Dairy Board and Fonterra gave him a unique perspective on New Zealand’s tax problems, and says he was motivated to make life easier for Kiwi businesses. 

“I’m a passionate believer in the value of business creating employment and livelihood for individuals, their families, and communities,” he says. “I’ve always had a desire to improve things.” 

He’s proud to have played a role in New Zealand’s rich history of innovation as an integral figure in the evolution of our tax system. For this reason, Ian was recognised as EY Entrepreneur of The Year category winner in 2013, for business and social entrepreneurship. 

 “To be involved in something that has improved the functioning of the tax system has been very rewarding. It’s great to be part of that era of reform that started in the 80s.” 

 Ian has always had a strong sense of purpose and community. So, it was no surprise that his business would give back to Aotearoa.

Being the change

One of TMNZ’s values is ‘be the change’, and this has been reflected in our philanthropic endeavours over the years.

“Since the beginning, we’ve always had an element of giving back and contributing,” Ian explains. “That’s always been part of our mission, but a couple of years ago we decided to go a step further and commit all of our profits to a Foundation.”

In 2019, Ian and his wife, Wendy, established Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation to continue their legacy. TMNZ’s profits are now entirely dedicated to Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation’s charitable and philanthropic mission, and our goals and objectives are now closely aligned with the causes we care about.

The Foundation invests bravely. It tests ideas that have the potential to create system change and improve our environment and communities. This is ‘venture philanthropy’.

The Foundation backs smart new ideas and works alongside talented project leads, helping them develop so they can bring others on board. The Foundation aims to tackle climate change and support marginalised and disadvantaged communities.

“These are two areas where there are significant needs,” Ian says. “There’s a great opportunity to make a difference, particularly with climate change, where we are running against the clock.”

The Auckland Climate Festival grew out of early funding from the Foundation and is now preparing for its third year. Mindful Fashion New Zealand is uniting businesses from the industry to reduce waste and operate more regeneratively, thanks to seed funding from the Foundation.

Ian Kuperus celebrates alongside guests of Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation and TMNZ

Helping other Kiwi innovators

Innovation plays an important role in tackling today’s major challenges in New Zealand, whether that’s climate change, natural disasters, health and wellbeing or economic prosperity.

“We’re proud to be helping to provide a cashflow boost to Kiwi innovators, so they can continue their important work,” says Ian.

TMNZ is administering Research and Development Tax Incentive (RDTI) in-year payments on behalf of the Government, providing businesses with regular cash payments towards R&D costs.

Launched in March, this world-first payments system enables businesses to receive 15% credit on eligible research and development expenditure as regular payments, rather than having to wait until after the end of the tax year.

Early-stage startups and other pre-profit research and development businesses are set to benefit the most from this interest-free loan solution, which provides cashflow boosts throughout the year.

This new R&D tax approach has landed exactly 20 years after TMNZ launched its global-first tax payment solution.

An innovative future

Looking back over the past two decades, Ian has learnt some valuable lessons about bringing business ideas to life.

So, what makes a successful innovator?

“It’s a combination of things,” Ian explains. “Being in a position where you’re prepared to take some risks, and having a vision of a better world or better business environment. Also, being prepared to engage with others and to allow your thinking to evolve.”

TMNZ’s team celebrate their new brand story and values

We’d like to thank all of our clients, partners, and employees who have supported us since 2003. As we look forward to the next 20 years, we’ll continue our commitment to investing in innovation.

Ian remains focused on inspiring the next generation of tax industry innovators at TMNZ.

“Knowing that we can carry on a tradition of innovation gives me great satisfaction. My role now is to continue fostering the right culture and environment for our team to continue their game-changing work.”