Date posted: 4/12/2019 4 min read

25 years of tax advocacy in the public interest

The New Zealand Tax Working Group illustrated “that it’s not enough for something to be good tax policy. It needs to be acceptable to the voting public”.

In brief

  • KPMG partner John Cantin FCA serves 25 years on CA ANZ’s New Zealand Tax Advisory Group
  • He says the standouts during this time were the big tax reviews
  • He receives a Meritorious Service Award, the first New Zealand CA ANZ member to do so

John Cantin FCA is celebrating 25 years as a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand's Tax Advisory Group and was last month presented with the Meritorious Service Award, the first New Zealand CA ANZ member to receive this award which recognises members giving back to their profession.

The Tax Advisory Group plays an important role in New Zealand tax policy because it works from a public interest perspective, rather than the interest of CA ANZ members, says John, a tax partner at KPMG.

"When you talk to others around the world, New Zealand is held up as a good example. Our politicians and officials are brave enough to say we should get a better result if we allow people to see what we are thinking. They let us give feedback on proposals and see whether there is a better answer," he says. "Elsewhere, it is much more controlled, by government ministers particularly."

The fate of the capital gains tax proposed by the 2018 Tax Working Group is a good example of New Zealand's process, says John. The 2009 Tax Working Group added the need for tax policy to be sustainable when determining whether to proceed.

"Our politicians and officials are brave enough to say we should get a better result if we allow people to see what we are thinking."
John Cantin FCA, KPMG partner.

"The result has illustrated that it's not enough for something to be good tax policy. It needs to be acceptable to the voting public," says John.

During his time in the group, John says the standouts for him have been the big tax reviews such as the 2001 McLeod review, a public review of the tax system, and the 2009 and 2018 Tax Working Groups.

What's ahead in tax policy?

"The impact of the transfer system, for instance, Working for Families and benefits, and personal tax on people's effective tax rates remain unfinished business," says John, the father of two, who has spent almost 15 years as treasurer of the Karori Park Sports Club.

The role tax should play in getting things done is the other big consideration.

"The Tax Working Group established a good framework to determine what is the best answer to a problem. Instead of taxing, the answer may be regulation and education or if Government wants a particular activity, then it's generally better to spend money directly on that," says John.

"The tax system can be used to raise the money to do it. The first response should be, let's have a look at the broader issue," he says.

John is committed to continuing his work with the Tax Advisory Group for the foreseeable future but doubts it will be for another 25 years.

"As a tax adviser and partner for KPMG, you appreciate that tax impacts everybody. It's about being able to help make sure that it affects people appropriately. At some point there are other minds and voices who will better contribute. The hope is they will remember how our system has developed and keep its best parts."

Meet the Tax Advisory Group

The TAG aims to provide sound, fair and efficient tax law and tax administration advice that is in the interest of New Zealanders and New Zealand business.

Read more

Search related topics