The Government will invest $150,000 in stimulating demand for geothermal heat resources in the Bay of Plenty region, Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins announced today.
“Geothermal energy is a global industry estimated to be worth $62.8 billion by 2020,” Mr Bridges says.
“Currently only 5 per cent of geothermal energy is being used in New Zealand. There is significant potential for greater use both across the Bay of Plenty and other regions in New Zealand.”
The investment will be used for a Geothermal Business Development Lead to support work in stimulating demand for geothermal heat resources, including attracting investment from industry and promoting the value proposition and commercial opportunities.
“The costs of renewable geothermal energy are often comparatively cheaper than gas and coal. New Zealand could be at the forefront of this as we have a secure and renewable energy source at our fingertips,” Ms Collins says.
“If used for high value products, geothermal heat could add millions to the local and national economy, growing industries in timber drying, aquaculture/tourism, horticulture and milk drying.”
This work is a significant action from the Start 2 Steam Workshop held in Rotorua in May and also forms part of the Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Action Plan.
The project will be led by the region with central government support from the Regional Growth Programme.
New regulations for New Zealand’s fuel specifications will support the growth of lower-emission fuels that are better for people, the environment and cars, Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins announced today.
The Regulations set out minimum standards for fuel performance, and change incrementally over time to keep up with new technology and international best practice.
“There are four significant changes – three that enable greater fuel supply choice and market-led innovation in the fuel mix; and one to reduce harmful emissions:
· Introducing a total oxygen limit, which potentially allows a wider range of fuel blends;
· Increasing New Zealand’s limit for methanol in petrol from one to three per cent volume;
· Raising the biodiesel blend limit in diesel from five to seven per cent; and
· Reducing the sulphur level allowed in petrol from 50 to 10 parts per million.
“The changes carry multiple benefits for consumers and for our environment.
“Three of the changes – the introduction of a total oxygen limit, increasing the biodiesel blend limit, and increasing the methanol blend limit – could potentially allow more flexibility in fuel mixes, a reduction in harmful emissions and increased diversity and enhanced security of local supply.
“The other change of reducing the sulphur level in petrol is specifically targeted to reduce harmful emissions, which will have health and environmental benefits. This is consistent with the most stringent fuel standards in the world, most notably in Europe, Japan and the United States,” says Ms Collins.
All of the amendments will take effect from 2 October 2017, apart from the change to the maximum sulphur level, which will come into effect on 1 July 2018.
Media contact: Julie Johnston 021 280 3253
Minister for Ethnic Communities Judith Collins has today announced the opening of the next funding round for the Ethnic Communities Development Fund.
The contestable fund provides $520,000 annually for projects that support leadership and social cohesion in ethnic communities as well as cultural events.
“The purpose of the Fund is to support the development of established and emerging ethnic communities. It’s important that all our ethnic communities have a sense of belonging and participation in our wider society.”
The Ethnic Communities Development Fund replaced the Settling-In fund in 2016, and made 62 grants in its first year. A list of recipients is available on the Office of Ethnic Communities website.
The funding round opens today and closes on 27 September 2017.
For more information on the Ethnic Communities Development Fund and how to make a request for funding, visit the Office of Ethnic Communities website www.ethniccommunities.govt.nz/story/ethnic-communities-development-fund
Defaulting student loan borrowers in Australia have stumped up nearly $5 million in payments, thanks to new information received from tax authorities across the Tasman, Revenue Minister Judith Collins and Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith say.
An information exchange between the countries allows the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to provide Inland Revenue with up-to-date contact details for Kiwi borrowers living in Australia.
The first exchange in November 2016 provided new contact details for more than 57,000 borrowers, 38,000 of which were in default. A sample of these was then sent by Inland Revenue to a collection agency.
By May 2017, repayments received were in excess of $4.7m, with some borrowers paying off their debt in full, and contacts from more than 3,000 to set up repayment plans. An additional 12,000 borrowers have voluntarily contacted Inland Revenue since the arrangement has been in place.
“I’m thrilled with the results from the first exchange, now is the right time for defaulting borrowers living in Australia to come to the party and make good on their debt.
“This first round of figures from the information exchange reflects the hard work that’s gone into it by Inland Revenue,” Ms Collins says.
A second exchange recently took place and more repayments are expected as the names and contact details of 10,000 borrowers have been provided to a collection agency.
“The message to all borrowers, particularly those who are overseas, is to keep in contact with Inland Revenue so that they can help keep you on track or sort out any problems you may have meeting your repayments,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“New Zealand’s student loan system has provided the opportunity for a tertiary education to hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders. But it will only continue to work if borrowers repay their share.”
Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins today announced funding for 15 projects to increase charging facilities for electric vehicles and switch more trucks, buses and vans to electric power.
The projects are the latest to be funded under the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
Ms Collins announced projects that were conditionally approved under the second round of the fund to receive $3 million.
She also announced the opening of the next funding round with a further $3 million available.
“The projects we announced today show there’s an electric vehicle for almost every job, be it rental cars, waste trucks or courier vans. These options make more sense because of how cheap electric vehicles are to run and maintain and how easy they are to charge,” Ms Collins said.
“We are investing nearly $1 million in charging infrastructure with projects on key tourism routes including Christchurch to Picton, Dunedin to Queenstown, and Queenstown to Invercargill.
“Also in the mix are exciting developments such as installing street charging for Wellington residents who don’t have a driveway or garage, and chargers that give buses a boost as they stop for passengers.
“The fund projects will add further momentum in New Zealand where more and more people and businesses are making the switch to electric vehicles.”
The fund is one of 14 initiatives in the Government’s Electric Vehicles Programme, which has a target of doubling the numbers of electric vehicles every year to reach 64,000 by the end of 2021.
Projects from the first round of funding are underway with some charging stations already in public use, Green Cabs offering free EV taxi rides and seven Foodstuffs supermarkets delivering groceries in the community in electric vans.
Applicants for the third funding round have until Wednesday 27 September 2017 to submit their proposals to EECA.
“The first two rounds of the fund were all about high visibility projects to get the electric vehicle story out to the New Zealand public,” Ms Collins said.
“For the next round we are looking for projects that can be replicated across the country. We want to see projects that support practical, sustainable ways to increase uptake particularly in the light fleet market, close gaps in charging infrastructure and demonstrate the uses of heavy electric vehicles across the economy.”
The fund will offer up to 50 per cent funding towards projects. Applicants must match or exceed the amounts granted.
For more information about the fund visit and for https://www.eeca.govt.nz/funding-and-support/electric-vehicles-programme/
For general information about electric vehicles, see www.electricvehicles.govt.nz
Revenue Minister Judith Collins has welcomed a second round of negotiations between China and New Zealand tax officials aimed at updating the current double tax agreement signed between the two countries in 1986.
“The aim is to agree a new treaty, adopting modern treaty language and concepts, including agreed measures to deal with base erosion and profit shifting,” Ms Collins says.
New Zealand tax officials will meet with Chinese officials in Beijing next week for the second time since 2014, to discuss a new treaty.
Double tax agreements are an important facilitator of trade and investment between countries because they ensure businesses don’t get taxed twice.
They provide greater certainty for both taxpayers and tax administrators about how cross-border investment income will be taxed. They reduce compliance costs and lower tax on some income.
Tax agreements are also used in the global fight against tax evasion, with signatories agreeing to share more tax information under the global standard set by the G20 and OECD.
China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner in goods and second largest overall including trade in services.
“In this context, it is vital to ensure our double tax agreement with China is up to date and follows best practices,” Ms Collins says.
Revenue Minister Judith Collins has today welcomed the release of a tax officials’ paper, seeking feedback on options to reduce the cost to employers of administering PAYE information.
“We are aware that certain aspects of PAYE, such as correcting simple errors and sending that information to Inland Revenue, are still largely manual. This can impose excessive compliance costs on business.
“The Government is looking to reduce some of these costs as part of Inland Revenue’s Business Transformation programme, so business owners can concentrate on the job of growing their businesses,” Ms Collins says.
A tax bill currently before Parliament contains proposals for reducing employers’ PAYE compliance costs by integrating the PAYE process into normal business activity.
Further proposals released today would make the task of correcting PAYE information errors easier by allowing employers to use payroll software to make corrections to already filed returns, or in some circumstances, to make corrections in a subsequent return. However, the proposals would not mean that all employers would need to shift to digital services.
“It’s important that all businesses should benefit from simplified PAYE error correction processes. For that reason, employers who currently file through Inland Revenue’s website or on paper could continue to do so. Employers would be able to access their filed returns through myIR to correct their records, and paper-based error correction forms would continue to be available to employers for the foreseeable future,” Ms Collins says.
The paper, PAYE error correction and adjustment, is available at: www.taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz Submissions close on 15 September 2017.
Revenue Minister Judith Collins welcomed the tabling in Parliament today of the OECD-led multilateral instrument.
“The Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty-Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (known as the Multilateral Instrument) allows several thousand tax treaties around the world to be quickly updated in line with OECD recommendations.
“The Multilateral Instrument is a major new weapon in the fight against base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) because tax treaty abuse is often the basis for BEPS techniques. The Multilateral Instrument includes articles on “permanent establishment” avoidance, treaty abuse, dispute resolution and hybrid mismatches. These address the key treaty-related BEPS issues. The extent to which these provisions are incorporated into New Zealand’s treaties will depend on the final positions of both New Zealand and our treaty partners.
“Tabling the treaty is another step forward along with other recently announced measures which aim to:Stop foreign parents charging their New Zealand subsidiaries high interest rates to reduce their taxable profits in New Zealand Stop multinationals using artificial arrangements to avoid having a taxable presence in New Zealand Ensure multinationals are taxed in accordance with the economic substance of their activities in New Zealand Counter strategies that multinationals have used to exploit gaps and mismatches in different countries’ domestic tax rules to avoid paying tax anywhere in the world Make it easier for Inland Revenue to investigate uncooperative multinational companies.”
Two Orders in Council signed this week will help strengthen New Zealand’s tax agreements with India, and with San Marino, to prevent tax evasion, says Revenue Minister Judith Collins.
The Third Protocol to New Zealand’s double tax agreement (DTA) with India updates previous exchange of information provisions and inserts an article relating to assistance in the collection of taxes into the DTA.
“This will make the existing exchange of information provisions in the DTA operate more effectively, and allow each country to assist each other in the collection of unpaid taxes,” says Ms Collins.
Similarly, the tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) with the Republic of San Marino implements the current international standard for exchange of information between New Zealand and San Marino.
While exchange of information provisions have traditionally been included in DTAs, new international standards require the exchange of information with tax jurisdictions with which DTAs may not be appropriate. The new TIEA with San Marino allows that requirement to be implemented.
The agreements will come into force once diplomatic formalities have been completed in each country, Ms Collins says, and will give signatories greater ability to share information to prevent tax evasion.
Finance Minister Steven Joyce and Revenue Minister Judith Collins have today announced the Government’s final decisions on proposals to address base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS).
“The new measures will significantly strengthen our tax rules and our ability to ensure that multinationals are taxed fairly and on the basis of their actual level of economic activity in New Zealand,” Mr Joyce says.
In combination the new measures will:
- Stop foreign parents charging their New Zealand subsidiaries high interest rates to reduce their taxable profits in New Zealand.
- Stop multinationals using artificial arrangements to avoid having a taxable presence in New Zealand.
- Ensure multinationals are taxed in accordance with the economic substance of their activities in New Zealand.
- Counter strategies that multinationals have used to exploit gaps and mismatches in different countries’ domestic tax rules to avoid paying tax anywhere in the world.
- Make it easier for Inland Revenue to investigate uncooperative multinational companies.
“These changes will result in an estimated $200 million a year in additional tax being paid by multi-national companies,” Mr Joyce says. “The Government budgeted for $100 million annually in out-years for additional multi-national tax, and these decisions mean that will be increased by a further $100 million annually from Budget 2018 onwards.”
“These decisions have been arrived at after weighing up public feedback on three government discussion documents relating to: hybrid mismatch arrangements; interest limitation rules; and transfer pricing and permanent establishment avoidance,” Ms Collins says.
“For the most part, the proposals will proceed as originally devised but in some instances, public feedback made a good case for refining the scope of proposals or for fleshing out technical detail. We’ll carry out further targeted consultation on such matters of technical detail (including draft legislation), without reducing the effectiveness of the proposals.”
“It is very important that every company operating in New Zealand pays their fair share of tax,” Mr Joyce says. While most multi-national companies follow the rules there are some that attempt to minimise or eliminate their New Zealand tax obligations. The proposals target these multinationals.
“I’m confident that the policy decisions we’ve made will tackle these BEPS activities without reducing the general attractiveness of New Zealand as an investment destination.”
“As we’ve done in the past for BEPS matters, we’re releasing reports and Cabinet papers detailing our key decisions. We are also releasing the public submissions we received,” Ms Collins says.
It is expected that the BEPS measures will be included in a tax bill to be introduced by the end of the year, for enactment by July 2018.
The documents released today can be found at www.taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz