IRD contacting our clients

Friends tax agents don’t let friends clients look at the IRD website

Taxpayers who derive income from NZ sourced salary and wages, interest and dividends with tax correctly deducted at source do not require assistance.

Taxpayers who derive any other sorts of income generally DO need assistance, and often appoint a tax agent.

In that case agreed protocols generally provide for all correspondence to be sent to the tax agent who can deal with it in a professional and timely way.

IRD continues to undermine those protocols through the IRD website, written and electronic correspondence.

IRD is constantly telling taxpayers they can handle their own affairs and misleading them into filing tax returns and paying tax prematurely.

Read on

Foreign investment funds – IRD forcing default calculation method to maximise collection of tax and deny taxpayers’ rights

In late 2022 the Commissioner issued a rotten Christmas present to taxpayers, asserting that when a taxpayer has FIF interests and is late filing a tax return the Commissioner gets to deny a calculation methodology specifically allowed by legislation. Bah humbug.  Submissions close 10 February 2023.

Full details below and at : Foreign investment fund (FIF) default calculation method (

Read on Foreign investment funds – IRD forcing default calculation method to maximise collection of tax and deny taxpayers’ rights

IRD is expanding offshore

Businesses and individuals are moving rapidly into online spaces and adopting new technology.  Long lunches and coffees with colleagues have been replaced or at least augmented by Zoom and other online meetings, DM and other instant messaging, and a new reality free from traditional constraints of face-to-face meetings and physical offices.   

In case you thought otherwise, IRD has kept up with the pace of change too.

There is a wealth of information available to IRD to assist with ensuring compliance with New Zealand rules, and it seems IRD are on track to make the most of it.

We have written previously in respect of IRD using data matching to identify New Zealand property transactions and suggesting (rightly or wrongly) that they should be taxable. 

However, IRD is increasingly sourcing information from overseas and matching that against the information they hold here in New Zealand.

Read on “IRD is expanding offshore”

Brightline test getting brighter

Context and land generally

The taxation of property transactions has long been misunderstood in New Zealand.

For many decades now, property purchased with an intention or purpose of resale has been taxable when sold.  This provision still exists. 

Some commentators suggest the intention rule ceases to apply after ten years of property ownership.  See for example Ashley Church: “The Bright Line Test and other silly laws” published in January 2021 by internet advertising company Oneroof Limited – refer This is simply untrue

However, historically it has been and remains hard to prove subjective intention or purpose and, other than the most blatant of cases, IRD have been understandably reluctant to judicially challenge using these provisions.

Other land taxing provisions

Irrespective of intention at time of acquisition, there are numerous other provisions serve to include the sale of property as being on revenue account and taxable. 

For example, income from land that is part of the businesses of dealing, dividing or developing land or erecting buildings is taxable, as is land sold within ten years by someone associated with these businesses.  There are other provisions hat can apply, and there are some exceptions. 

Introduction and initial purpose of Brightline Rules

New Brightline Test rules applying initially for two years (land acquired from 1 October 2015) and then five years (land acquired from 29 March 2018) provided some certainty – residential property acquired and sold within these timeframes is now simply taxable – subject to only a handful of exemptions.

This simplicity made it easier for IRD to capture many of those transactions where a purpose or intention for resale often existed, but was difficult to prove.  The measure is blunt but indisputably effective.

But now things have got messy…

Read on “Brightline test getting brighter”

Beware: IRD’s going Phishing with a Bright Line

Just when we thought you’d seen enough to be able to tell a Nigerian Scam letter from the real thing, IRD have decided to really test us.

In “How to Recognise a Scam” the Ministry Business Innovation and Employment tells us something is very likely to be a scam if:

  • Somebody contacts us unexpectedly
  • You are being pressured to make a quick decision that will cost you
  • Ask you for money or personal information
  • You are asked to click on a link

and the link below IS genuine!

MBIE recommend you listen to your instincts – if something feels wrong then it generally is.

So, what exactly is IRD doing?

As the bright-line rules are becoming more established, and following the recent extension to a ten year time frame, IRD are increasingly and understandably relying on the legislation to include proceeds from land sales within income.

However, what is less understandable is IRD’s use of public land records to embark on ill researched and unprepared phishing expeditions. 

Read on “Beware: IRD’s going Phishing with a Bright Line”

IRD swiping right! – collecting info for tax reviews and audits

The dating world sure has changed over the years.  Technology is playing an ever increasing part in the process with prospective partners undertaken significant data matching and compatibility testing.

It may not seem overly romantic for some but there appears little doubt the algorithms are viewed by many as at least partially and initially effective.

It is not only the dating world where data and algorithms are becoming commonplace.  Increasing we are also seeing IRD ‘swiping right’ and applying a technological driven approach.  Ever been stalked?

IRD is happy to “date locally” and has been reviewing land transaction records within New Zealand.  IRD picks up property transaction data and often assumes a change in a title means a purchase or acquisition – this includes change in trustees, change in name (eg from marriage or divorce), even subdivision and issuing a new title.  We will be publishing an expanded item later this year.

We have seen clients receive specific investigative/please explain correspondence from IRD in relation to application of Brightline provisions to land they appear to only have owned for a few months based on a certificate of title received after a subdivision, notwithstanding that the underlying undivided land had been held by the same taxpayer for more than 25 years.

Double Tax Agreements have recently been amended to include exchange of information provisions.  Where no Double Tax Agreement exists, IRD is also entering into separate exchange of information provisions.  As a result, the New Zealand IRD enjoys an unprecedented level of cooperation and information gathering with other revenue authorities from around the world. 

We have also seen frequent IRD reviews where existing NZ taxpayers have a foreign banking service provided such as a credit card or similar and IRD proactively seek explanation and confirmation that all foreign income has in fact been returned in New Zealand.

While IRD may have a little way to go yet on the use of technology, we all need to remain cognizant that technology is being used to an ever increasing degree.  It is currently being used to drive audit and review selection and at least initial queries.  Be sure to practice safe tax and engage an expert chaperone!!

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