Tax Law

I can help you with all aspects of tax law including complex tax disputes, tax opinions, tax prosecutions, tax debt cases, and matters relating to IRD powers.

No one is thrilled to be audited or chased for debt by Inland Revenue. The temptation is to ignore the problem or leave it to the accountant. The early involvement of a specialist tax lawyer to assist you and your accountant gives you the greatest possible chance of cost-effectively putting your tax issue behind you and moving on with your life.

Contested tax matters can be highly complicated and stressful at the best of times -if Inland Revenue are alleging tax evasion or fraudulent tax avoidance the stakes are raised even higher. Inland Revenue’s successful criminal prosecutions lead to sentences of home detention and community work if a taxpayer is lucky, or a prison sentence if they are not so lucky. I have substantial experience in these most serious of cases.

Some examples of issues I can assist with follow:

Hospitality / small business cash suppression audits

Inland Revenue has an active programme targeting cash suppression by hospitality businesses. It is common for Inland Revenue to have detailed comparison data upfront and for them to have conducted covert inquiries. This type of audit can rapidly become very serious – an early negotiated civil settlement is a good outcome to aim for. If that fails, it’s a fight … battle of the statisticians … affairs dissected in the glare of a courtroom …

PAYE prosecutions

PAYE is not like other taxes – mere non-payment by due date can lead to a criminal prosecution. The goal is to prevent this …

Multi-revenue tax audits

This type of ‘general’ audit can lead to a range of outcomes from no tax adjustments at all through to fully-fledged tax evasion allegations and everything in between. Unlike hospitality audits and tax debt cases, it’s often unclear why Inland Revenue has decided to investigate a business. It becomes a game of chess … or poker …

Tax avoidance disputes

It is common to seek to structure a business in a tax-efficient way. Trading trusts, employee share purchase schemes, superannuation schemes, and hybrid instruments are just some of the things that can provide tax as well as commercial advantages, and yet be subject to scrutiny by Inland Revenue. Navigating through the tax avoidance minefield is one of the trickiest areas in tax and it’s an area I have substantial experience in.

Complex tax technical disputes

Quite apart from allegations of tax avoidance, many tax disputes are highly complex in their own right. Whether it’s a tricky accruals issue, a convoluted subdivision of land matter, or tax loss utilisation issue, I can guide you through the fog.

Tax debt negotiation

In recent years legislation has been enacted making it easier for taxpayers to get a time payment arrangement, a remission of part or all of a tax debt, and sometimes a combination of both time to pay and some sort of remission of debt. When I say it’s now easier to do a deal on a tax debt, just remember it used to be impossible, so ‘easier’ is a somewhat relative term. And you don’t just want a ‘deal’, you want a ‘good deal’ …

Tax debt litigation

Inland Revenue frequently seeks to make tax debts payable by seeking judgement in the case of individuals, or by issuing a statutory demand in the case of companies. Both these steps trigger tight time frames. If there is no adequate response by a taxpayer, Inland Revenue is very quick to commence either bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings. As usual with all types of tax matters, it is better go engage earlier with Inland Revenue utilising experienced experts to assist you. But life doesn’t always work out that way so if you do have a tax debt that Inland Revenue is pursuing in Court, there are still some good outcomes that an experienced tax lawyer can achieve.

Inland Revenue search and inquiry powers

Inland Revenue has the power to demand that documents and records be handed over, they can search either your business premises or your private house for documents and records, and they can compel you to attend an inquiry to answer questions on oath about your tax affairs. These are all highly intrusive powers, and they can all lead to highly adverse consequences. I have substantial experience dealing with these powers, including large-scale cases where complex issues of legal privilege arise in the context of the vast amount of information that can be contained on company computer servers.

Criminal Law

I can assist you with any criminal or regulatory prosecution and I have particular expertise in financial crime and fraud cases.

Tax prosecutions

Whether Inland Revenue are alleging cash suppression, PAYE non-payment, or fraud, the stakes are very high. Crucial decisions as to whether to mitigate or fight all the way have to be made relatively early which can be hard for a lawyer not fully familiar with both tax and criminal law. I’ve been involved in hundreds of tax prosecutions and, while every case turns on its own facts, I can help you through the process and achieve the best outcome possible.

Other fraud prosecutions

Fraud prosecutions instigated by the police, Work and Income New Zealand, Accident Compensation Corporation, and other government agencies tend to be document-heavy cases where the ultimate issue is often whether a person had an honest belief their actions were lawful. Focusing squarely on this issue, while also being aware of the policies and procedures of government agencies, is key to getting a good outcome in these cases.

Litigation assistance for major regulatory cases

I’ve helped conduct some of the most complicated financial crime trials in New Zealand and I can draw on this experience to assist Queens Counsel in document-heavy major regulatory prosecutions.

Fraud investigations for organisations

I can assist companies conduct internal fraud investigations with a view to either referring a complaint to the police or for use in employment disciplinary proceedings.

General criminal matters

While the majority of my criminal law background has been in financial crime and fraud matters, I have a very detailed knowledge of the law of evidence and criminal processes and therefore can be instructed on any criminal case.

Other Law

I advise on child support issues. I also act in employment law cases, especially those arising out of the major Inland Revenue restructure.

Child support cases

Major changes to the child support regime took effect on 1 April 2015 and 1 April 2016. I can assist you to navigate through these changes, and plan your affairs to get the best possible outcome. I can also help you take an administrative review of any Inland Revenue decision, or Court action if necessary. I can also assist with related financial aspects of family law, eg relationship property matters.

Employment law (Inland Revenue restructure)

For over 10 years, I was a union representative at Inland Revenue helping staff with employment law issues. I am very familiar with the current major Inland Revenue restructure. I can assist you to prepare for mediation and to take Employment Relations Authority proceedings if necessary.

Other employment law cases

I can assist you in any employment dispute. Capped fee arrangements are available for every stage of the process, eg lodging a grievance up to the end of mediation, and progressing a case in the Employment Relations Authority.