Cook Islands tax info agreement big step forward
The Tax Information Exchange Agreement signed by New Zealand and the Cook Islands today provides for full exchange of information on criminal and civil tax matters between the two countries, Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said.
Prime Minister John Key signed the agreement on behalf of New Zealand at a ceremony at Avarua, Rarotonga, this morning New Zealand time.
"We welcome the signing of this important agreement with the Cook Islands, with whom we have a close historical, economic and cultural relationship," Mr Dunne said.
"The agreement will enable the tax authorities of both countries to gain access to information about income and assets that would-be evaders try to hide in the other country," he said.
"Having access to that information is especially important at a time when countries everywhere are doing all they can to protect their tax bases."
Mr Dunne said the agreement will cover "not only information held by banks and other financial institutions but also information on who benefits in company ownership chains and on the settlors, trustees and beneficiaries of trusts".
"The global financial crisis has resulted in a new, worldwide focus on tax co-operation as increasing numbers of financial centres agree to adopt OECD standards for exchange of tax-related information," he said.
New Zealand already has a tax information exchange agreements with the Netherlands Antilles and Bermuda. Several others are expected to be signed over the next few weeks.
"We are very pleased that the Cook Islands are among the first countries to sign a tax information exchange agreement with New Zealand," he said.
The agreement will come into force once both countries have given legal effect to it.
The text of the agreement is available at www.taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz
Contact: Mark Stewart, Press Secretary 021 243 6985