Announcements
PUBLISHED 5 November 2009

Proposed changes to GST rules on land sales

Proposed changes to the GST rules on sales of land and other high-value assets, to prevent revenue loss, are the focus of a government discussion document released today for public comment. Other proposed changes include making it easier to account for the taxable and non-taxable use of assets on which GST is paid, and clarifying the boundary between residential and commercial accommodation for GST purposes. For more information see the media statement and the discussion document, "GST: accounting for land and other high-value assets".


Hon Peter Dunne
Minister of Revenue

MEDIA STATEMENT

Dunne: Proposed GST rule changes on sales of land, high-value assets

Law changes to the GST rules on sales of land and other high-value assets are the focus of a discussion document released today by Revenue Minister Peter Dunne.

"The proposals target sellers and buyers in transactions involving high-value assets. In these transactions GST revenue can be lost by the government from a small minority of taxpayers deliberately using differing GST accounting treatments or winding up a vendor company so that no GST is paid."

"A conservative estimate puts the loss of GST revenue from the property development sector through such activities at about $50 million a year, and probably growing," Mr Dunne said.

"That is clearly unacceptable and will be stopped.

"The discussion document seeks public feedback on proposals for stopping these activities, as well as for clarifying a range of other GST issues for high-value transactions and making them more consistent – which is in everyone's best interest.

"The main proposal is to introduce a mechanism known as a domestic reverse charge, whereby the obligation to account for GST in transactions involving land, other assets worth more than $50 million, and those involving 'going concerns', would be shifted from the seller to the buyer.

"As well as addressing revenue risk, the reverse charge would benefit businesses by removing cash flow concerns for the parties to a transaction in the period between GST payment and input deduction. It would also reduce the risks to sellers of an unexpected GST liability arising when, for example, a transaction is incorrectly zero-rated as a going concern.

"Other changes proposed in the discussion document are aimed at making it easier to account for the taxable and non-taxable use of assets on which GST is paid. Specifically, the existing change-in-use adjustment would be replaced by an approach that would apportion input tax deductions in line with the actual use of goods and services.

"Similarly, the discussion document proposes clarifying the boundary between residential accommodation, which is GST-exempt, and commercial accommodation, which is not. That would ensure better consistency of GST treatment of equivalent types of accommodation.

"These are some of the proposed changes set out in this very timely discussion document. I urge all interested parties to have their say on the workability of the proposals and the draft legislation that accompanies the text,” Mr Dunne said.

Submissions close on 18 December.

The discussion document, "GST: accounting for land and other high-value assets", is available at www.taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz.

Mark Stewart - Press Secretary, Office of Hon Peter Dunne
Phone 64 4 817 6985