Is a GST Domestic Reverse Charge a Good Idea?

GST is a hazardous tax, not only for taxpayers, but also for the Government. Unlike income tax, the Government has a commitment to refunding GST, and this part of the GST mechanism leaves the tax open to manipulation. The hazard is greatest where the assets sold are largest.  The domestic reverse charge mechanism will to an extent reduce the risk the Government faces from being ripped off through the GST system.

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In the recent Court of Appeal decision Commissioner of Inland Revenue v Penny and Hooper [2010] NZCA 231 (4 June 2010) it was held that Mr Penny and Mr Hooper entered into a tax avoidance agreement when structuring their affairs in such a way as to avoid paying tax at 39% on the majority of their income.  The surgeons have now decided to appeal the case, but if not successful it will have significant implications for a broad sector of the New Zealand public. Read more

What are the transitional rules for the GST rate increase if I account for GST on a payments basis?

What are the transitional rules for moving to the 15% GST rate in New Zealand from 1 October 2010 if you account for GST on a payments basis? The transition rules applying to those on a payments basis are arguably the most complex part of the change to the GST rate. This article helps explain these specific aspects of the transitional rules.

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Please refer to our New Zealand Lawyers Articles for a post on important tax issues surrounding the earthquake

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QC and LAQC Reforms – New Announcement by the Minister of Revenue?

Most readers will know of the changes to the QC and LAQC regimes foreshadowed in the May 2010 Budget.  The details announced in the the Budget were very brief.

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The May 2010 Budget contained some initial indications of what to expect from the changes to the QC and LAQC rules.  In this short youtube video Sybrand van Schalkwyk discusses at a very high level the issues to consider and the important dates to keep in mind. 

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GST on the sale of land between registered persons is being reduced from 15% to 0%. What are the transitional rules that registered persons should be aware of?

The rules relating to GST on the supply of land between registered persons is being changed. Broadly, rather than charging GST at 15%, the rate is being changed to 0%.  There is much by way of technical detail to understand regarding these changes.  This article very briefly considers the transitional provisions that will need to be taken into account.  It is necessarily technical. If you have any questions about it, please contact your usual Parry Field lawyer.

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The May 2010 Budget contained some initial indications of what to expect from the changes to the LAQC rules.  The law has now been finalised, and introduces look through companies (“LTCs”) as a new concept. This short update points out some of the differences that  result from the introduction of LTCs.  For background on the changes, listen to/read our interview with Craig Macalister from the New Zealand Institute of Chartered accountants on the LAQC changes. 

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When purchasing a property, it pays to investigate the history of the buildings on the land. If there are no records of building consents having been issued by the council, then at best the buildings may have been constructed without council approval and may not comply with the building code. At worst, they may be dangerous for use and occupation.


Background To The Building Consent Process

The Building Act 2004 (“the Act”) governs all building works in New Zealand. It states that such work must comply with the building code. The code is made up of regulations which prescribe the functional requirements for buildings and the performance criteria they must meet for their intended use.

Before undertaking building work, the owner of the property must obtain approval from a building consent authority. Usually, the building consent authority is the local council. Council approval for building work is known as a “building consent”.

During construction and once construction is complete, the council will inspect the work to ensure compliance with the conditions of the building consent and the building code. If the council approves the work, then it issues a code compliance certificate. It is an offence to carry out any work requiring a building consent if the work is not in accordance with the terms of the building consent. Also, subject to some exceptions, until such time as a code compliance certificate has been issued, it is an offence to occupy the building.

What Happens When Building Work Has Been Done Without A Building Consent?

Building consents cannot be issued retrospectively. However, if the work has been completed and a building consent was required but not obtained, then an application to the council for a “certificate of acceptance” may be made. This involves the council inspecting the work to determine if it complies with the building code. If it does, then it may issue a certificate of acceptance. However, such a certificate cannot be issued if the building work was carried out prior to 1992 as the building code was not in existence prior to that date.

It is not uncommon to come across properties where the buildings on the land have been constructed with a building permit or consent but the work has either never been completed, or if it has, the council has not approved it. If the work was carried out prior to 1 January 1993 and provided that the building is not “dangerous” or “unsanitary” as defined in the Act, then the council cannot take any action to require the owner to complete the work in accordance with the original building permit.

Make Sure Your Contract is Conditional on Approval of a LIM Report

The best way to check that there are no unauthorised buildings on a property is to obtain a Land Information Memorandum (known as a “LIM report”) before you buy it. This includes a summary of all records held by the council in relation to the property including details of building permits, consents, code compliance certificates and certificates of acceptance. To protect your position, any sale and purchase agreement you sign should be subject to approval of a LIM report for the property.

It is worth remembering that although the absence of permits or consents may not pose a problem while you live in the property, it may well become a problem once you decide to sell it. For that reason, a LIM report is money well spent. It could save you a great deal more at a later date.


This article is not a substitute for legal advice and you should talk to a lawyer about your specific situation. Please contact Tim Rankin at Parry Field Lawyers (348-8480)


“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

For most small businesses, your lease will be one of your most important contractual documents.  Get it wrong and the profitability of your business may be seriously affected.  Even so it is common for business to sign up agreements to lease without getting legal help. The lawyers at Parry Field have considerable experience in helping tenants to negotiate lease terms that fairly protect the tenant from undue risk and cost.

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