Tax in New Zealand
Bell Gully in Auckland has the largest specialist tax practice in the market and it has a track record of involvement in major corporate transactions and precedent-setting tax disputes. It is also highly skilled in private client tax work for high-net-worth individuals, indirect tax and customs and excise matters. It is also regarded as having the leading transfer pricing practice in the market. Tax disputes specialist Mathew McKay leads the practice and frequently acts for domestic and offshore clients in the full range of tax matters. Willy Sussman is New Zealand’s only specialist indirect tax lawyer and Graham Murray is a respected transactional tax expert. Campbell Pentney, who is a key member of the GST and Customs and Excise specialist group, and tax litigation specialist Hayden Roberts are up-and-coming partners.
“These guys are very clever, practical and easy to deal with. They also turn things around quickly and are able to work closely and proactively with their clients which is invaluable.”
“Matthew McKay is a star. He is always available and involved but uses people in his team carefully and collaboratively to deliver great results. It is a pleasure working with him and his people.”
“The analysis undertaken by the team at Bell Gully is incredibly thorough – we have complete confidence that the team can come up with the ‘right’ solutions to address complex issues and problems.”
“Matthew McKay, Hayden Roberts and Graham Murray are all very responsive when urgent advice and assistance is sought.”
“The dedicated tax practice in Auckland is highly technically proficient, timely and great value for money. As one of leading tax practices in New Zealand, the team is able to identify key issues and communicate complex issues succinctly and in a manner that is easily understood. Not only does the team identify such issues, but it also proposes practical solutions or actions.”
“Practice head Mathew McKay is technically brilliant, and is one of the leading litigators when it comes to arguing complex tax technical issues.”
“Graham Murray, a newer partner, has been well mentored and trained by Mathew and continues to provide excellent service and advice.”
Frucor / Danone
Fletcher Building Limited
Vodafone Group Plc
Chatfield & Co
Canterbury Jockey Club
Special Situations Assets Limited
Waikeria Prison Ppp3
Westland Co-Operative Dairy
Bank Of America Merrill Lynch
Contact Energy Limited
- Acted for Frucor Suntory New Zealand Limited in a rare victory on tax avoidance having successfully rebutted the allegation that its use of convertible note financing to fund its New Zealand business was a tax avoidance arrangement.
- Advised Fletcher Building on the sale of Formica Group by Fletcher Building and the sale of its international roofing products manufacturer, Roof Tile Group, to trade buyer IKO Industries Limited following a competitive sales process
- Acted for American worldwide health services organisation and specialist insurer, Cigna Corporation, in relation to its acquisition of life insurance company, OnePath Life (NZ) Limited, from ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited for approximately NZ$700m.
- Advised Vodafone Group Plc on its sale of Vodafone New Zealand Limited to a consortium of Infratil and Brookfield Asset Management Limited for NZ$3.4bn, making it one of the largest New Zealand M&A transactions on record.
- Advised British private equity firm Apax Partners LLP on their successful bid for New Zealand’s largest e-commerce company, Trade Me.
MinterEllisonRuddWatts has a group of tax lawyers in Auckland that is 'solution-focused, commercial and pragmatic'. One client praises the firm's 'capability, depth and breadth of knowledge, coupled with an eye for detail'. The practice led by Andrew Ryan, who is a member of the New Zealand Law Society Tax Reform Committee, frequently handles tax disputes with the New Zealand Inland Revenue and with NZ Customs; the team recently represented a high-net-worth family in a complex excise and customs duty dispute regarding the acquisition of tax residency. The firm also handles the tax aspects of large and complex corporate transactions. Special counsel Sacha Oudyn is recommended for tax advice on warranty and indemnity insurance products.
Other key lawyers:
Sacha Oudyn; Simon Akozu
“The firm is responsive to questions and provide responses I can rely on.”
“They can provide us with answers on questions ranging from insurance and tax, through to copyright and employment, which means we can be confident in getting the right answer with a thorough backing in a timely fashion.”
“Andrew Ryan is responsive, accurate and able to provide the right direction and answer, and in many cases points out alternatives and risks that weren’t visible initially.”
“Andrew Ryan provided reliable, accurate advice on a complex project.”
Z Energy Limited (listed on the NZX and ASX)
ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited
Zespri Group Limited
MediaWorks Investments Limited
Hengyi Pacific Pty Ltd
Deutsche Bank AG
TOMRA Systems ASA
The Co-operative Bank Limited
Bank of New Zealand Limited
Pie Funds Management Limited
- Advised New Zealand’s largest fuel retailer Z Energy on tax aspects of the acquisition of a majority stake in electricity retail business Flick Electric Co.
- We acted for ANZ Bank in relation to the sale of the ANZ Securities business to First NZ Capital, and the entry into a strategic alliance and referral agreement between ANZ and First NZ Capital.
- Advised Zespri Group Limited on its share offer and buy-back programme as part of its long-term project to strengthen the kiwifruit industry’s foundations by addressing a problem of growing misalignment between growers who supply kiwifruit to Zespri and people who own shares in Zespri.
- Advised MediaWorks Investments Limited on the merger of the QMS New Zealand out-of-home, digital media and production business with MediaWorks’ television and radio businesses.
- Acted for Hengyi Pacific Pty Ltd in relation to the senior and mezzanine financing of its Pacifica apartment and hotel development in central Auckland.
Russell McVeagh provides tax advice on financing and capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, business establishment and reorganisations, investment products, PPPs, employee remuneration packages, customs and excise, transfer pricing, and tax investigations and disputes. Recent contentious matters include disputes involving excise, tax avoidance, depreciation and transfer pricing before the Customs Appeal Authority, High Court and Court of Appeal. The firm also advised Commonwealth Bank of Australia on the sale of its New Zealand life insurance business. Brendan Brown leads the practice from Wellington and specialises in corporate and international taxation, including transfer pricing matters and tax disputes. Fred Ward in Auckland is an experienced tax specialist who focuses predominantly on banking transactions and tax disputes.
Other key lawyers:
Fred Ward; Tim Stewart; Chris Harker
“The firm is very responsive and has strong knowledge of banking structures and programmes.”
“Fred Ward is strong on financial arrangement rules and banking, and provides excellent service.”
ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited
Bank of New Zealand
ASB Bank Limited/Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Westpac New Zealand Limited
New Zealand Post/Kiwibank Limited
Spark New Zealand Limited
Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited
Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation
- Advised Commonwealth Bank of Australia on the New Zealand component of the AUD3.8bn sale of life and health insurance business Sovereign.
- Advised shareholders of Paymark on the sale by New Zealand’s four largest banks of their shareholding in Paymark, a leading New Zealand payment network, to Ingenico Group.
- Acted for Provident Insurance in relation to a dispute around the application of the GST financial services exemption to consumer credit insurance.
- Advised Heartland Bank on the corporate restructure, including advising on the potential impacts on its existing operations, and representing it in two applications before the High Court of New Zealand to obtain orders necessary to put the transaction into effect.
- Advised Infratil on the sale of the NZ Bus group by way of share sale to private equity firm Next Capital, including drafting and negotiating tax provisions in the sale and purchase agreement, and advising on the tax consequences of the sale for Infratil.
Simpson Grierson's Auckland office is home to a tax group that is known for its 'approachability and the ability to articulate complex issues clearly'. The practice handles the tax aspects some of the largest and most significant commercial and transactions in New Zealand, which last year included the intra-group restructuring of Tait Communications. It is also adept at tax disputes and tax audits, and in assisting clients to make voluntary disclosures to the New Zealand tax authority. Practice head Barney Cumberland has significant experience in all aspects of domestic and international tax law, and frequently handles cross-border investment and finance transactions. Stuart Hutchinson, who is now a consultant after 30 years as a senior tax partner, and senior associate Nick Bland are also recommended.
“The team is approachable, proactive and provides a complete analysis and answer to issues and questions. It can provide understandable information on complex issues.:
“It has in-depth knowledge of Local Authority and Tax issues and a willingness to assist, often at reasonably short notice.”
“They understand the legislative history and have contact with IRD decision makers. Stuart Hutchinson is particularly valued along with Nick Bland.”
“Providing fast accurate legal advice and preliminary warning or advice against changing laws or regulations could be the team’s biggest strength.”
“For financial arrangements and tax, we recommend Stuart Hutchinson.”
“It has a very responsive team, in which there is always someone to answer or retrieve the conversation. They respond comprehensively and dig deep in the level of detail needed. Also, their answers and explanations are very useful and easy to understand.”
“Barney Cumberland’s ability to respond, capability to analyse in detail and give a full comprehensive opinion is highly valued. He is recognisable for his desire to create new proffesional links and relationships with firms around the globe.”
“The team has a specialist charities and tax knowledge base that is rare among our providers. The team has taken care to learn about our corporate structure so that their advice is accurate and applicable to our particular circumstances.”
“Nick Bland is a standout provider. His expertise is simply unmatched among our other providers. We appreciate how detailed, tailored, and specific the advice we receive is. It is always provided in a form we can share with the business and not have to interpret for non-experts.”
OMV New Zealand Limited and OMV AG
Tāmaki Redevelopment Company group
Arena Investors, LP
Adamantem Capital Pty Limited
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
- Barney Cumberland headed up the Simpson Grierson team which advised Tait Limited and its subsidiaries on a complex intra-group restructure followed by a third-party investment.
- Acted for OMV in its acquisition from Shell Investments NZ Limited of Shell’s NZ upstream production assets (83.75% stake in the Maui Field, 48% stake in the Pohokura Field, plus onshore storage and distribution infrastructure assets).
- Acted for Finaccess Capital as the ultimate parent of the offeror in the successful partial takeover offer for up to 75% of the shares in New Zealand and Australia dual listed Restaurant Brands Limited.
- Advising Tamaki Redevelopment Company on matters relating to the group’s tax status and tax aspects of the redevelopment of approximately 170 hectares of prime suburban land, which included obtaining Inland Revenue binding rulings on complex tax-related matters.
- Acted for Arena Investors (based in the United States) on its partial debt and equity funding of Optic Security Group’s roll up of six Australasian security firms.
The Auckland office of Buddle Findlay houses a tax practice that is heavily involved in M&A transactions across a diverse range of industry sectors on behalf of high-profile domestic and multinational groups. The firm's close relationships banks and other large domestic and overseas corporations see it frequently advise on specific banking products and schemes, as well as other innovative tax issues. The practice led by Tony Wilkinson also contentious matters, notably tax and customs and excise disputes. Last year, Wilkinson advised Infratil and Canadian asset management company Brookfield on their acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand. Partner Neil Russ has left the firm to form Russ + Associates.
Other key lawyers:
Neil Russ; Maria Clezy
‘The team are extremely talented and easy to deal with’.
The Growth Fund
Development West Coast
Vodafone New Zealand
All of Government (NZ)
Bank of New Zealand
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Toyota New Zealand
- Advised a consortium comprised of NZX and ASX listed Infratil and Canadian asset management company Brookfield on their acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand Limited from Vodafone Group Plc for an enterprise value of NZ$3.4bn.
- Engaged as key tax advisors on the IPO of UP Fintech Holdings, a worldwide brokerage group with annual trading volumes in excess of USD120bn on its offer of American Depository Shares to the public.
- Advised The Growth Fund on a series of related transactions, including the acquisitions of Plan B Ltd, Tazio Ltd, Bondor NZ Ltd and Solarix Holdings Ltd.
- Advised Z Energy Ltd on the consequences of the new Auckland Regional Fuel Tax regime.
- Advising a multinational corporation in respect of a groundbreaking and unprecedented excise duty dispute.
Chapman Tripp has a large tax practice that frequently handles large corporate transactions requiring taxation law, including M&A deals, securitisations, restructurings, cross-border capital repatriation and dividend issues, as well as tax disputes with Inland Revenue. In Auckland, Graeme Olding and Bevan Miles advise on a broad range of tax matters including business structures, reorganisations, merger and acquisition transactions and tax disputes, as well as cross-border structuring issues, and debt and equity issuances. In Wellington, David Patterson , who has more than 25 years' market experience, and senior associate Vivian Cheng are highly recommended.
EY Law Limited in Auckland is known for its extensive technical understanding of all types of tax, including duties and customs, and its deep expertise in tax strategy and administration. It is adept at handling contentious matters, including work on cutting-edge issues such as base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS, transfer pricing and mutual agreement procedures). Kirsty Keating and Tori Sullivan lead the practice in Oceania and New Zealand respectively. Keating has extensive experience in assisting multinational clients in Australia and New Zealand across a number of industries, and high-net-worth individuals, with large-scale tax disputes and litigation support. Sullivan recently took over as head of the firm in New Zealand and acts for multinationals in large-scale, cross-border tax audits, disputes, settlement and litigation.
Kirsty Keating; Tori Sullivan
Other key lawyers:
Jonathan Choie; Reshma Soni
As part of a large global firm, DLA Piper New Zealand advises on complex, cross-border corporate transactions. Special counsel David Johnston, who joined from Deloitte, and consultant Lynette Smith lead the practice. Johnston has notable experience in the tax aspects of both inbound and outbound cross-border matters. The firm also handles tax matters relating to employee share plans, investment funds and warranty and indemnity insurance. Tax advice is particularly important to the firm's market-leading investment funds practice, and the firm's work in that area encompasses advising on the tax structure, reviewing the fund documentation and providing general tax advice such as in relation to New Zealand's PIE tax regime.
David Johnston; Lynette Smith
Accel-KKR / Seequent
- Advised OnSolve in relation to the establishment of its operations in New Zealand, including advising on all tax aspects and agreeing its transfer pricing position with Inland Revenue.
- Regularly advising AIG in relation to providing W&I insurance on significant transactions undertaken in New Zealand, including the tax aspects.
- Acted for Accel-KKR on its NZ$140m acquisition of the Seequent Group, the subsequent acquisition of GeoSoft, and the implementation of a group wide employee share plan.
- Advised Hamermine and its shareholders in connection with its New Zealand operations.
- Regularly providing legal advice to Foodstuffs North Island in connection with its ongoing operations and transactions, including the tax aspects of transaction documentation.