Twenty Years of GST: The Best Path Forward

Information about the 2006 Goods and Services Tax conference

16–18 November 2006

As global initiatives to reduce trade tariffs forced countries to consider new forms of revenue raising, value added tax (VAT) emerged as one of the most important tax issues facing the world.

GST/VAT is not a simple tax. Good design and administration can reduce complexity and compliance costs but challenges posed by GST/VAT were been underestimated by everybody—governments, tax advisers, businesses and researchers.

There was an urgent need to understand this tax, which, at the time, raised about 25% of tax revenue in around 140 countries.

Twenty years after introducing the world’s purest value-added tax, New Zealand continued to reduce exemptions to its ground-breaking Goods and Services Tax (GST), and survives to tell the economic tale.

Sir Roger Douglas, the New Zealand Minister of Finance who introduced GST, and thirty other international experts took part in the conference. Their focus was on policy, political, legal, and administrative perspectives to GST/VAT issues, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

This conference built on the first global VAT/GST conference in March 2005 organised jointly by the IMF, the OECD, and the World Bank.

Conference sessions covered:

  • financial services
  • cross-border services
  • real property issues
  • revenue and business risk
  • the interpretation of GST law
  • GST/VAT in the Asia-Pacific
  • the future of the GST.

Organised by the Centre for Accounting, Governance, and Taxation Research (CAGTR) at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, in collaboration with the Taxation Law and Policy Research Institute at Melbourne’s Monash University, ‘Twenty Years of GST: the Best Path Forward’ was part of a larger, five part GST Project:

  • The NZ GST Conference (16-18 November, Wellington).
  • A Pacific Island GST workshop for Pacific Island tax administrators (20 November, Wellington).
  • A book, in which speakers and panelists will expand on the points they make in their presentations to the conference.
  • Publication of some longer articles in academic journals.
  • Publication of NZ GST teaching materials.

There were 26 speakers and 12 commentators. They included:

  • Sir Roger Douglas, the New Zealand Minister of Finance who introduced the New Zealand GST 20 years ago
  • Justice Peter Blanchard, Supreme Court of New Zealand
  • Michael D’Ascenzo, Australian Federal Commissioner of Taxation
  • Hon. Siosiua ’Utoikamanu, Tongan Minister of Finance
  • Satya Poddar, Partner, Ernst & Young, India
  • Professor Ben Terra, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Eugen Trombitas, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, New Zealand
  • Professor Tim Edgar, University of Western Ontario, Canada
  • Willy Sussman, Partner, Bell Gully Buddle Weir, New Zealand
  • Associate Professor Lee Burns, University of Sydney, Australia
  • Chris Needham, European VAT Director, GE Capital Europe Ltd, United Kingdom
  • Stephen Phua Lye Huat, Director, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, National University of Singapore
  • Michael Evans, Partner, KPMG, Australia
  • Marie Pallot, New Zealand Inland Revenue Department
  • Dr Geoff Harley, Barrister, New Zealand
  • Professor Neil Brooks, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, Canada
  • Bruce Quigley, Assistant Commissioner, Australian Tax Office
  • Rebecca Millar, University of Sydney, Australia
  • Robin Oliver, Deputy Commissioner of Inland Revenue, New Zealand
  • Professor Rick Krever, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Martin Smith, Chief Tax Counsel, New Zealand Inland Revenue Department
  • Ian Dickson, Director, Burleigh Evatt, New Zealand
  • Paul Mersi, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, New Zealand
  • Associate Professor David White, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
  • Associate Professor Bob Stephens, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
  • Allan Bullot, Partner, Deloitte, Auckland
  • Patrick Colmer, General Manager, Indirect Tax Division, The Treasury, Canberra, Australia
  • Ken Fehily, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Melbourne, Australia
  • Peter Felstead, Partner, Deloitte, Auckland
  • John Wallace, Director, Ernst & Young, Sydney, Australia
  • Key figures whom the New Zealand Government appointed to consult the public and coordinate the implementation of the GST.