By Renée Lang
Photo Ishna Jacobs
The thing about running a successful business, whether it’s a small operation or a large company employing many people, is that you want to be able to get on with running it. After all, you’ve got it that far – so why not stick with what you’re good at and call on experts to guide you through the issues with which you are less familiar.
This is where having access to Johnston Associates South tax consultants can really deliver peace of mind. Between them Katrina Scorrar, Kelvin Scoble and Mark Davies offer over 50 years of experience in tax law, having worked in organisations ranging from Inland Revenue to the Big Four tax practices and strong local firms such as Johnston Associates.
Mark says this breadth of experience is invaluable when it comes to their core business of advising small to medium enterprise owners in the Top of the South. “When I was with a Big Four firm I thought the tax issues we dealt with were pretty complex. Unfortunately, things can be just as complicated for the family-owned businesses we work closely with, and as they usually don’t have the specialist skills to deal with issues themselves that’s where we add value.”
Trusts are another important part of their business, and Katrina in particular specialises in advising people with an international dimension to their lives, especially those who have moved or are considering moving between countries. Over recent years Katrina has noticed a big upsurge in the number of Kiwis moving back to New Zealand, as they are attracted by the climate and lifestyle on offer. Like migrants, ‘repats’ are often unaware of the tax implications attached to their offshore assets and investments, so it pays for them to seek expert advice well in advance.
While he also enjoys working in the international arena, Kelvin’s special interest lies in the way land transactions are taxed – or not as the case may be. His clients include all kinds of property investors and people with holiday homes, or other kinds of property. “If you buy a residential property now, but sell within five years, chances are you’ll pay tax on any gain,” says Kelvin. “That catches a lot of people unawares.” He’s finding a number of lawyers are now coming to him with complex problems around how the ‘bright-line’ rule operates, which once again emphasises the importance of seeking professional advice ahead of any transactions.
Kelvin and Mark also work extensively in managing disputes with the IRD. “The IRD has some of the most extensive regulatory powers that exist under New Zealand laws,” Mark explains. “Tax disputes are intrusive and can test a client’s rights, sometimes in quite fundamental ways. This can be extremely stressful and sometimes traumatic, even if people have done everything correctly. While we prefer to work constructively with IRD, because they have an important job to do, ultimately we need to ensure our clients are adequately protected.”
It’s never too soon to discuss your tax-related issues.