Jul 22, 2008

Did Peters Breach Rules?

From Audrey Young (who seems to have the bit between her teeth)

Since 2006 all MPs have had to declare assets and gifts. Before that, only Cabinet ministers needed to do so.
If Owen Glenn's donation to Winston Peters' legal bill is considered a "debt" or a "gift" it should have been declared.
Pecuniary Interests Register
What must be declared by MPs includes:
- A description of all debts of more than $500 owing by the MP that were paid (in whole or in part) by any other person and the names of each of those persons.
- All gifts over $500 and, if known, the name of the donor.
The period for which information must be provided is the 12 months before January 31 of the year the return is submitted.
Cabinet Manual
- Ministers must declare all gifts over $500 and relinquish them unless they have the Prime Minister's okay.
Tax law
The lack of details about the payment makes it unclear where there are tax obligations for either Mr Peters or Mr Glenn.
If gift duty on Mr Glenn's donation was due, it would amount to $25,000 - but experts say it would depend on a variety of factors, including Mr Glenn's Monaco home. Gift duty generally does not apply where the donor does not live in New Zealand or the money has come from overseas.

Tax lawyer Tony Wilkinson from Buddle Findlay said he doubted whether Mr Glenn's donation could be treated as "income" for the purpose of tax.
While there were few details about the payment, for it to be taxed as income it had to be "an income payment in nature", such as salary, wages or payment for work.
"Ordinarily gifts or donations don't meet that threshold," Mr Wilkinson said. "Here it would be unwise to assume simply because there seems to be a significant payment that it will have tax consequences.
"Not all payments naturally have a tax liability attached to them."
Inland Revenue would not comment, but has previously said if one person pays another's liabilities with nothing expected in return it generally meets the definition of a "gift", for which gift duty must be paid on sums over $27,000 a year.