Goods and Services Tax (New Zealand)
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GST in New Zealand is designed to be a broad based system with few exemptions. Exceptions that do exist include rents collected on residential rental properties, donations, precious metals and financial services.
End-users pay this tax on all liable goods and services directly, in that the purchase price of goods and services includes GST.
The existing rate for GST effective from 1 October 2010 is 15%.
GST was introduced by the Fourth Labour Government of New Zealand on 1 October 1986 at a rate of 10% on most goods and services. It replaced existing sales taxes for some goods and services. GST was a part of the economic reforms initiated by Labour Finance Minister Roger Douglas dubbed Rogernomics. GST was introduced in conjunction with compensating changes to personal income tax rates.
Since its introduction it has had two increases, on 1 July 1989 the rate increased to 12.5% and on 1 October 2010 it increased again to 15%.
How it works
GST-registered organisations and individuals pay GST only on the difference between GST-liable sales and GST-liable supplies (i.e., they pay GST on the difference between what they sell and what they buy: income less expenditure). This is accomplished by reconciling GST received (through sales) and GST paid (through purchases) at regular periods (typically every two months, with some qualifying companies opting for one-month or six-month periods), then either paying the difference to the Inland Revenue (IRD) if the GST collected on sales is higher or receiving a refund from IRD if the GST paid on purchases is higher.
Businesses exporting goods and services from New Zealand are entitled to "zero-rate" their products: effectively, they charge GST at 0%. This permits the business to claim back the input GST, but the eventual, non-New Zealand based consumer does not pay the tax (businesses that produce GST-exempt supplies are not able to claim back input GST).
Because businesses claim back their input GST, the GST inclusive price is usually irrelevant for business purchasing decisions, other than in relation to cash flow issues. Consequently, wholesalers often state prices exclusive of GST, but must collect the full, GST-inclusive price when they make the sale and account to the IRD for the GST so collected.
GST on digital services supplied by offshore companies
On 1 October 2016, the taxation of digital ('remote') services supplied by offshore companies (non-New Zealand) to consumers based in New Zealand changes. From this date onwards a GST of 15% will be applied to all supplies from offshore digital service suppliers to New Zealand based consumers. It will be the supplier's responsibility to apply, collect, and remit the new GST to New Zealand's Inland Revenue Department.
This new piece of GST legislation mirrors similar rules governing the supply of digital services introduced in the European Union (EU) in January 2015.
The general taxation of digital goods and services has become more commonplace internationally since the OECD released its long-awaited BEPS report in October 2015. Action 1 of this BEPS report deals with the taxation of the digital economy. The report provided guidelines and recommendations for such taxes be they in the form of value-added tax, GST, equalisation levy, or withholding tax.
New Zealand is the latest jurisdiction to include such rules in legislation following in the path of Norway, the EU, South Africa, South Korea, and Japan. In July 2017 the Australian Government also plans to introduce similar rules.
- New Zealand history online (30 August 2012). "Goods and Service Tax Act comes into force". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- "100 days until New Zealand's online GST introduction". 23 June 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016.