Taxation in New Zealand

Taxes in New Zealand are collected at a national level by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) on behalf of the Government of New Zealand. National taxes are levied on personal and business income, and on the supply of goods and services. There is no capital gains tax, although certain "gains" such as profits on the sale of patent rights are deemed to be income – income tax does apply to property transactions in certain circumstances, particularly speculation. Local property taxes (rates) are managed and collected by local authorities. Some goods and services carry a specific tax, referred to as an excise or a duty, such as alcohol excise or gaming duty. These are collected by a range of government agencies such as the New Zealand Customs Service. There is no social security (payroll) tax or land tax in New Zealand.

New Zealand went through a major program of tax reform in the 1980s. The top marginal rate of income tax was reduced from 66% to 33% (changed to 39% in April 2000, 38% in April 2009 and 33% on 1 October 2010) and corporate income tax rate from 48% to 33% (changed to 30% in 2008 and to 28% on 1 October 2010). Goods and services tax was introduced, initially at a rate of 10% (then 12.5% and now 15%, as of 1 October 2010).

Tax reform continues in New Zealand. Issues include:

Individual income tax

New Zealand residents are liable for tax on their worldwide taxable income. In 2005–06, 43% of the New Zealand Government's core revenue ($22.9bn) came from individuals' income taxes.[4]

Types of taxable income

Tax rates

Income tax varies dependent on income levels in any specific tax year (personal tax years run from 1 April to 31 March).


Income Tax Rate Effective Tax Rate
$0 – $14,000 10.5% 10.5%
$14,001 – $48,000 17.5% 10.5 - 15.5%
$48,001 – $70,000 30% 15.5 - 20.0%
Over $70,000 33% 20.0 - 33.0%
No-notification rate 45% 45%

Rates are for the tax year 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, and are based on tax code M (primary income without student loan) and excludes the ACC earners' levy. The earners' levy rate (including GST) for the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 is 1.45% ($1.45 per $100).[6][7]

In New Zealand, the income is taxed by the amount that falls within each tax bracket. For example, persons who earn $70,000 will pay only 30% on the amount that falls between $48,001 and $70,000 rather than paying on the full $70,000. Consequently, the corresponding income tax for that specific income will accumulate to $14,020— which comes to an overall effective tax rate of 20.02% of the entire amount.

Tax credits

The amount of tax actually payable can be reduced by claiming tax credits, e.g. for donations, childcare and housekeeper, independent earners, payroll donations, income under $9,880, and children.[8]

Tax credits on income under $9,880 and for children were removed effective from 1 April 2013.[9]

Tax deducted at source

In most cases employers deduct the relevant amount of income tax from salary and wages prior to these being paid to the individual. This system, known as pay-as-you-earn, or PAYE, was introduced in 1958, prior to which employees paid tax annually.

In addition, banks and other financial institutions deduct the relevant amount of income tax on interest and dividends as these are earned. This is known as resident withholding tax.[10]

At the end of each tax year, individuals who may not have paid the correct amount of income tax are required to submit a personal tax summary, to allow the IRD to calculate any under or overpayment of tax made during the year.

Double taxation agreements

Individuals who are tax resident in more than one country may be liable to pay tax more than once on the same income. New Zealand has double taxation agreements with various countries that set out which country will tax specific types of income.[11]

These countries have double tax agreements with New Zealand
Australia India Singapore
Austria Indonesia South Africa
Belgium Ireland Spain
Canada Italy Sweden
Chile Japan Switzerland
China Korea Taiwan
Czech Republic Malaysia Thailand
Denmark Mexico Turkey
Fiji Netherlands United Arab Emirates
Finland Norway United Kingdom
France Philippines United States of America
Germany Poland
Hong Kong Russian Federation

Some agreements protect pension payments as well. The agreement with the United States, for example, prohibits New Zealand from taxing American social security or government pension payments, and the reverse is also true.[12]

ACC earner's levy

All employees pay an earner's levy to cover the cost of non-work related injuries. It is collected by Inland Revenue on behalf of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

The earner's levy is payable on salary and wages plus any other income that is subject to PAYE, for example overtime, bonuses or holiday pay. The levy is 1.70% for the year from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013. It is payable on income up to $113,768.[6]

Capital gains tax

The New Zealand Government for the first time will introduce a capital gains tax on property, to apply from 1 October 2015. The rate will be the same as the seller's income tax rate. The new tax will not apply to the family home or death estate or property sold as part of a relationship settlement. The main aim of the new tax was to collect money off property speculation – houses bought and sold within two years will be subject to the new tax.[13]

Business taxes

Business income tax

Businesses in New Zealand pay income tax on their net profit earned in any specific tax year. For most businesses the tax year runs from 1 April to 31 March but businesses can apply to the IRD for this to be changed.

A provisional tax payer is a person or a company that had a residual income tax of more than $2500 in the previous financial year. There are three options for paying provisional tax; standard method, estimated method and GST Ratio option.

At the end of the year the business files a tax return (due on the following 7 July for businesses with a tax year ending 31 March) and any under or overpayment is then calculated.

Companies pay income tax at 28% on profits.[16] Tax rates for individuals operating as a business (that is, individuals who are self-employed) are the same as for employees.[17] (See individual tax rates, above.)

Goods and Services Tax

Goods and services tax (GST) is an indirect tax introduced in New Zealand in 1986. This represented a major change in New Zealand taxation policy as until this point almost all revenue had been raised via direct taxes. GST makes up 24% of the New Zealand Government's core revenue as of 2013.[18]

Most products or services sold in New Zealand incur GST at a rate of 15%. The main exceptions are financial services (e.g. banking and life insurance) and the export of goods and services overseas.

All businesses are required to register for GST once their turnover exceeds (or is likely to exceed) $60,000 per annum.[19] Once registered, businesses charge GST on all goods and services they supply and can reclaim any GST they have been charged on goods and services they have purchased.

Fringe Benefit Tax

Employers are liable to pay Fringe benefit tax (FBT) on benefits given to employees in addition to their salary or wages (e.g. motor vehicles or low interest loans)[20]

There are several methods available for calculating FBT liability, including an option of paying a flat rate of 64% on all benefits provided.[21]

Excise duties

In New Zealand, excise or duty is charged on a number of products, including alcohol products, tobacco products, and some fuels.[22]


  1. NZ Government discussion document on business taxes
  2. NZ Government discussion document on taxation of investment income
  3. NZ Government media release on forthcoming international tax review
  4. Key facts for taxpayers from the NZ Treasury website
  5. "Tax and your property transactions" (PDF). Inland Revenue Department. 11 December 2014.
  6. 1 2 Income tax rates for individuals from the IRD website
  7. ACC earners' levy on income from personal effort
  8. Tax credits (Individual income tax). (24 August 2009). Retrieved on 19 August 2011.
  9. "Budget 2012 announcements". Inland Revenue Department. 30 May 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  11. Double tax agreements from the IRD website
  12. (See Article 18, Pensions and Annuities)
  13. "Govt to tighten tax on capital gains". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  14. 1 2 Provisional Tax Breakdown
  15. GST Ratio Option
  16. Taxing companies from the IRD website
  17. Taxing sole traders from the IRD website
  18. Common questions about GST from the IRD website
  19. Fringe benefits overview from the IRD website
  20. Calculating FBT from the IRD website

External links

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