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Inland Revenue

Tax Policy

PUBLISHED 28 March 2011

Decisions on earthquake tax relief announced

Minister of Revenue Peter Dunne and Minister of Finance, Bill English released details of changes to tax legislation agreed to by Cabinet today. The amendments will provide tax relief to Christchurch residents and businesses. For details, please see the media statement and accompanying fact sheets about tax relief for donated trading stock, tax relief for employer welfare contributions and extensions of time.

N.B. Subsequent to the release of this media statement, on 4 May 2011 a bill was tabled in Parliament under which the time period on the exemption from tax and gift duty on donated trading stock was updated to cover the period beginning on 4 September 2010 and ending on 31 March 2012.

Hon Bill English
Minister of Finance

Hon Peter Dunne
Minister of Revenue

Media statement

Earthquake tax relief measures announced

The Government has put in place several tax relief measures to help Christchurch residents and businesses trying to get back on their feet after last month's earthquake, Finance Minister Bill English and Revenue Minister Peter Dunne announced today.

"With the end of the tax year rapidly approaching, businesses and employers in Christchurch and around New Zealand need some certainty about the tax issues arising from the Canterbury earthquakes," Mr English said.

"These measures will make it easier for Christchurch businesses to comply with their tax obligations, recognising the disruption caused by the earthquakes," he said.

The measures include:

  • Providing an exemption so businesses do not have to pay tax or gift duty on trading stock they have donated within four months of either the September 4 or February 22 earthquakes.
  • Making certain welfare contributions provided by employers tax free, within eight weeks of either earthquake.
  • Extending the redundancy tax credit, which had been due to end on 31 March, to 30 September this year.
  • Granting the Commissioner of Inland Revenue the discretion to extend statutory tax dates on a case or class-of-cases basis.
  • Exempting certain payments made to families who receive Working for Families tax credits as a result of the earthquake from counting as income.

Mr Dunne said that normal tax rules had not been designed for disasters of the scale of the Canterbury earthquakes.

"Therefore the Government has recognised that they simply would not be fair for people in these extraordinary circumstances," Mr Dunne said.

"It is important we provide both income tax and gift duty relief to businesses donating trading stock to help alleviate the impact of the earthquake.

"Without this exemption, businesses would be taxed on a deemed profit based on the market value of any donated goods," he said.

To qualify, trading stock must meet certain criteria outlined on Inland Revenue's policy website at

Mr Dunne said the move to give the Commissioner of Inland Revenue the discretion to extend statutory tax dates was consistent with the flexible approach the Government and Inland Revenue had already been taking after both Canterbury earthquakes.

"Many businesses are dealing with lost records and disrupted systems and this is being recognised," he said.

Mr English said the definition of income for Working for Families was being broadened from 1 April to include cash gifts, payments of expenses and certain other payments.

"Cabinet has agreed this should not apply to the support given to people adversely affected by the Canterbury earthquakes."

The Commissioner of Inland Revenue would have the discretion to exclude such payments from counting as Working for Families income for up to a year.

Mr Dunne said he expected most of the legislation for these decisions to be enacted in early May.

"The Government's objective is to get earthquake-stricken residents and businesses back on their feet and today's decision will help and reflects a need for common sense, flexibility and pragmatism," he said.

Announcements would be made in due course on depreciation recovery and the Government would consider other issues as they arose.

Detailed information on the changes is contained in fact sheets on the Inland Revenue Department's policy website at

Media contacts:
Mark Stewart 021 243 6985 (Minister Dunne)
Grant Fleming 021 277 9869 (Minister English)