Geoffrey Cone, a renowned tax lawyer in Auckland, New Zealand has responded to a feature on the recent news on the media concerning New Zealand’s foreign trusts. He maintains that the truth just like anything that touches on tax is mundane. He notes that his country is not a tax sanctuary; the essential characteristics of tax haven are that they impose only nominal taxes. With such, there is no transparency and the laws and procedures inhibit the exchange of information with other states. New Zealand does not qualify any of these grounds nor has a highly secretive private banking sector.
In fact, New Zealand was among the first states o feature on OECD’s white list for its efforts in implementing globally agreed tax standards. One way that the country demonstrates tax transparency and accountability leadership is in how it manages foreign trusts as well as the necessities they place on the trustee.
All of these go towards helping other nations that request relevant information. Under the new rules introduced by Michael Cullen in 2006, New Zealand is expected to submit a Foreign Trust Disclosure form by IRD and keep all other financial records for its tax purposes. The information includes trust deed, settlement details, distributions, contact information, and money that the trustee gets and spends.
About Geoff Cone
Geoff Cone is a principle in the Marshall Cone law firm. He is one of New Zealand’s longest serving foreign tax experts. Geoff is a graduate of University of Otago, New Zealand and hold and LLB honors and a post graduate diploma in tax and trust law. He started out his career in 1980 in Auckland, New Zealand before moving to Christchurch. At Christchurch, he was a partner and the Chairman of Partners in a leading law firm. Geoff practiced commercial litigation and tax and trust advisory work. He appeared in the court at every level as a lead counsel.
The Birth of Cone Marshall Limited
Cone returned home in 1997 after working for the British West Indies and established his firm, Cone Marshall Limited in 1999. Cone Marshall is the only legal firm that specializes exclusively in foreign trust and tax planning in New Zealand. It provides trustee management and trust services through affiliate companies.
Operating Pacheso Coto Cone, an asset planning vehicle, Geoff remains a principle in the Cone Marshal although there is little information about the company on its website. Cone has extensive knowledge in tax law and has worked for tax havens and New Zealand for many decades now. He has been vocal in defending the country’s reputation with foreign trusts. The defense is best seen in an article Cone wrote in the Herald back in 2012 about New Zealand’s position which was a model. He clarified that transparency with foreign trusts was used for asset protection and succession planning instead of tax planning.