Encounter the Difference

NZ CA is an association of independent Chartered Accounting firms, proactively working together for the benefit of our clients.

Capital Gains Tax: The Final Word

Published: 25th February 2019

Author: nsaTax Limited

Capital Gains Tax: The Final Word
The much-anticipated final report of the Tax Working Group (TWG) was released on 21 February and, unsurprisingly, recommended the introduction of a broad-based, realised capital gains tax regime. The Final Report is substantial at two volumes and 206 pages, 94 of which are dedicated to a discussion on a capital gains tax (CGT) regime.

Whilst there are some changes from the Interim Report released last September, the recommendations are substantially the same as those contained in that report. Interestingly, only eight out of eleven of the TWG members support the introduction of a comprehensive CGT regime.

As always, the devil is in the detail and it will take some time for the entire 206 pages to be digested. However, a summary of the recommendations is as follows:

What will be taxed?

  • The following assets (included assets) would be subject to CGT: all forms of land except the family home, shares, intangible property, and business assets. The TWG recommends excluding personal use assets such as cars, boats, jewellery, fine art, collectibles, and other household durables.
  • Only gains arising after “valuation day” would be taxed.
  • Taxpayers would have up to five years to determine the market value of assets as at valuation day. If a valuation is not obtained, a “default rule” would apply. According to prominent Wellington property investor, Troy Bowker, that could impose a $4.5billion compliance cost on affected taxpayers (450,000 small businesses incurring on average $10,000 in valuation costs). The TWG specifically recommend against adopting the Australian approach of only taxing assets acquired after the date of introduction.

When will it be taxed?

  • CGT would apply on a realised basis only but would be subject to a number of concessions/exclusions referred to as “rollover relief”.
  • Rollover relief would apply to all inherited assets, assets donated/gifted to donee organisations (charitable entities), certain involuntary events where the proceeds are invested in a similar replacement asset e.g. an insurance event/natural disaster, a business restructure where there is no change in ownership in substance, small business rollover where proceeds from included assets are reinvested in a replacement business.
  • In terms of gifted assets, rollover relief would apply where the gift is to the person’s spouse, de facto or civil union partner but otherwise would not qualify for relief.
  • CGT will be imposed at the person’s marginal tax rate. The TWG does not recommend an adjustment for inflation or that the tax rate should be discounted (as currently the case in Australia).
  • The cost of an asset including capital improvement can be deducted against sale proceeds to arrive at the taxable capital gain. However, holding costs such as interest or rates will not be claimable against personal use assets.
  • Capital losses should be capable of set-off against both ordinary and capital income i.e. they should not be ring-fenced and claimable against only against capital gains. However, there are several exceptions proposed to this rule - the most notable being that capital losses from personal use assets cannot be claimed against either ordinary income or capital income. Others include losses generated from associated person transactions, where rollover relief is available but the taxpayer chooses not to apply them, losses arising on assets held on valuation date.

Transitional Rules
A number of transitional rules for assets held on valuation date are also proposed including:

  • Flexible and default valuation rules for valuation date assets should be mandated by Inland Revenue.
  • A median rule for assets held on valuation date whereby the “cost” to be deducted from proceeds to determine the capital gain amount will be the middle value of actual cost (including improvements), valuation date value (including improvements), and sale price. The intention is to stop artificially high valuations being adopted at valuation date.
  • Transitional rules are also recommended for immigration/emigration, and where an asset changes use from private to a CGT asset and vice versa.

Who is taxed?
Consistent with our existing tax regime, a New Zealand tax resident will be subject to CGT on worldwide assets. Non-residents will be subject to CGT only on New Zealand-sourced capital gains.

Company Matters
There is some discussion dedicated to the potential for double taxation and double deductions for gains and losses in the corporate context. For example, a company sells an asset and derives a capital gain on which it is taxed. A shareholder then decides to sell their shares before that capital gain has been distributed. Inherent in the value of the shares is the capital gain derived by the company. This potentially leads to the same gain effectively being taxed twice i.e the company is taxed on realisation and the shareholder is taxed again on the same underlying gain via the increased share value.

The TWG concludes the market will take care of this issue in terms of widely-held entities and in relation to closely held entities, these issues can be managed by distributing said gains before the share sale.

Imputation continuity rules
Of particular interest is the suggestion that the continuity rules for imputation credits be removed (these rules currently require the same shareholders to hold at least 66% of the shares in a company in order to carry forward imputation credits).

Liquidation
The TWG acknowledges that the rules dealing with distributions from a company on wind-up will need to be modified to ensure pre-CGT gains are not subject to tax on final distribution.

Foreign shares
The current regime dealing with interests in foreign investment funds (FIF) is to be retained with some possible refinement to the ability for individuals and trust taxpayers to switch between the fair dividend rate and comparative value methods. However, CGT will be imposed on foreign shares which are not currently subject to the FIF regime. This includes holdings of less than 10% in Australian resident listed companies, greater than 10% holdings in Australian resident companies, and a foreign share portfolio with a cost of less than $50,000.

There is also some discussion around portfolio investment entities including KiwiSaver funds. At a very general level, the proposal is that these entities will also be subject to CGT on investments not dealt with under the FIF regime.

The Dissenting Views in the TWG
Robin Oliver, Joanne Hodge and Kirk Hope all disagree with the TWG’s recommendation to introduce a comprehensive CGT regime. Their collective view is that the costs of introducing a CGT regime as proposed by the TWG would clearly outweigh the benefits. Such a regime would impose efficiency, compliance and administrative costs that would not be outweighed by the revenue collected. They also have concerns over the timetable to introduce the rules.

They suggest an incremental extension of the tax base over time i.e. extending the tax base on an asset-by-asset basis. In their view, an extension to the taxation of residential rental properties is the most obvious starting point.

Closing Comments
A lot will be said over the coming months about the proposed regime and, if the government is to get it across the line, we may find some areas are watered down, especially the applicable tax rate.

There is also one obvious recommendation that the TWG has overlooked entirely and it is this: we recommend Jacinda wanders down the hallway and has a quiet word with Winston to determine whether he is in support of a broad-based CGT regime. If not, the Interim and Final Reports will make for useful doorstops but that’s about all. A quick discussion could save us all a great deal of time and effort debating this issue, not to mention millions of dollars of taxpayer funds drafting legislation and undertaking the consultation process.

Related Articles

  • Auckland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Canterbury
  • East Coast
  • Hawke's Bay
  • Manawatu/Wanganui
  • Nelson/Marlborough
  • Northland
  • Otago
  • Southland
  • Taranaki
  • Waikato
  • Wairarapa
  • Wellington
  • West Coast

RSM New Zealand Group

RSM consists of three New Zealand member firms of the global international audit, tax and consulting group - RSM. RSM is represented by three local, long standing firms in New Zealand, RSM New Zealand (Auckland) Limited and RSM New Zealand (Auckland North) Limited and specialist audit and assurance firm RSM Hayes Audit. The legacy of the representative firms spans over 70 years in Auckland and offer local knowledge and worldwide connections which allow us to provide the best possible resources for our clients.

RSM provides a full range of accounting and advisory services and we are committed to helping you grow your business. As well as what you would expect from your accountant, we also provide specialist services in Audit, Tax and Business Consultancy to clients across a diversity of industry sectors.

As a firm we provide strong service benefits to our clients. Our simple structure enhances business efficiencies and underpins our client focused culture, ensuring ready access to our partners and senior team members.

We seek to bring you the best of both worlds. Expert local experience combined with the sixth largest international accounting network of independent audit, tax and advisory firms.

Region: Auckland

Phone: 0800 774 623

Focus Chartered Accountants

At Focus we believe that the Chartered Accountant of today is judged by the way in which they work with their clients to provide creative and creditable solutions to their business needs.  To do this successfully they must be a proactive member of their clients' business teams, and be prepared to dissolve the boundaries and limitations of traditional accounting work and thinking.

Region: Bay of Plenty

Phone: 0800 362 872

Brown Glassford & Co Ltd

Brown Glassford & Co Limited have a long history providing specialist farm accounting and business advice to the rural community. The combination of experience, expertise and quality staff makes us one of the leading providers of farm accounting services in the South Island. At Brown Glassford & Co Limited we also provide management and accounting advice to the commercial sector.

Region: Canterbury

Phone: (03) 365 0881

No firms in East Coast

Accountants Hawke's Bay Limited

Accountants Hawkes Bay is an Independent Chartered Accountancy firm operating in Hawke’ Bay providing quality business and financial advice. We are a progressive firm specializing in accounting, taxation, business growth and software solutions for small to medium sized businesses.

Region: Hawke's Bay

Phone: 06 843 4868

Naylor Lawrence

Region: Manawatu/Wanganui

Phone: 06 357 0640

Wallace Diack Chartered Accountants Ltd

Region: Nelson/Marlborough

Phone: (03) 578 7389

Sudburys Limited

Sudburys look after business owners providing solutions in all areas related to accounting, finance and wealth management. They work alongside their clients, from supporting them with their daily accounting needs, to providing them with valued business advice.

Region: Northland

Phone: (09) 430 4888

Flannery Tait

Flannery Tait Chartered Accountants is based in Alexandra with a satellite office in Cromwell.  The firm offers a variety of accounting services to clients who are located mostly in the Central Otago area.

Our Directors and staff have a great deal of experience built up over the past 30+ years and take pride in providing clients with a high-quality service at a competitive price. We are also actively involved in the local community and support many not for profit and
educational organisations.

Region: Otago

Phone: 03 448 8060

McIntyre Dick & Partners Limited

McIntyre Dick & Partners Ltd is one of the top chartered accountancy and business advisory firms in Invercargill and with a diverse portfolio of clients throughout the south including Invercargill, Te Anau, Gore, Queenstown, Dunedin & throughout Otago.

Region: Southland

Phone: 03 211 0801

Harris Taylor Limited

The Accountancy world is constantly changing and highly competitive. At Harris Taylor their challenge is to stay ahead of the competition by providing the best possible service, whilst ensuring that client satisfaction remains our primary motivation and ultimate goal.

Region: Taranaki

Phone: 06 278 5058

Vazey Child Limited


The first thing you will notice when you work with Vazey Child is their approach. It is in the analysis and advice, the understanding of your business and a focus on adding value that is where they excel. It’s why they exist, and it’s why their clients enjoy working with them.

Region: Waikato

Phone: (07) 838 2169

Southey Sayer

Offering a full range of accounting and business development services, tailored to meet the needs of each individual client. The wide range of expertise and experience within the firm is shared amongst the partners and their teams for their clients benefit. Services and products offered are fully flexible there will be no expectation to conform to a certain product or pricing structure.

Region: Wairarapa

Phone: (06) 370 0811

BW Miller Dean Ltd

BW Miller Dean Ltd was formed on 1 April 2016 with the merger of two long standing Wellington chartered accountancy practices: BW Chartered Accountants Ltd and Miller Dean Chartered Accountants Ltd. 

BW Miller Dean pride themselves on building relationships based on trust with clients through personal, individual attention, and always being available to help their clients with specialist Accounting or Finance functions when needed.

Region: Wellington

Phone: 04 910 3340

Marshall & Heaphy Limited

Central to the culture of the team that has been developed over their history, is the belief that successful and sustainable businesses are the backbone for the West Coast community. Great businesses create jobs, keeping people and family together on the Coast, building a sustainable community.

Region: West Coast

Phone: 03 768 7186