While practicing in Auckland, a major tax law firm in Christchurch offered him a partnership. He returned to the South Island for a little while before leaving the country to serve as a litigator in the British West Indies. After only two years, he returned to set up his own law firm — Cone Marshall — on the North Island in Auckland. He’s been practicing trust and tax law since 1990. Some even say that he does the Haka in the hallways before filing papers or attending court. Whether or not that’s true, it’s safe to say that Geoff Cone knows his stuff.
So when he starts talking about the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, you know he means business. Cone says the OECD provides the world with standards concerning tax law. New Zealand, Cone says, was the first country to achieve the OECD’s gold standard of worldwide transparency concerning foreign trusts.
The New Zealand government forces anybody setting up a foreign trust in New Zealand to provide detailed information to the government in English. These documents are kept by the New Zealand government in order for them to share with foreign governments that may investigate a money trail. Essentially, New Zealand makes it very hard for foreigners to avoid domestic taxes by setting up trusts in New Zealand.
New Zealand also enforces a variety of stiff banking regulations. The Kiwi country applies a tax to anybody setting up a foreign trust in the island nation. This is an immediate deterrent to people looking to use New Zealand as a tax haven because it already takes a chunk of their wealth away.
And New Zealand’s banking regulation makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to hide money. When you bring your wealth to this nation as a foreigner, your government back home will know because of the records kept by bankers in New Zealand and the New Zealand government. Wealthy people looking for a tax haven are better off looking at countries with little to no banking regulation.
And communication is a key deterrent for foreigners looking to hide their wealth from their own government. According to OECD’s standards, New Zealand has agreed to share all of this information with any foreign government looking for it. It is an insurmountable paper trail leading to the pot of gold that is a foreign trust.