MP has no evidence to back tobacco tax 'rort'

Free audio stream, including stories that are padlocked on our site. Listen on any device, anywhere. Updated twice daily. The audio stream takes several seconds to start on Android devices.

Launch Radio player

New Zealand First MP Andrew Williams has no evidence to support his claims the tobacco industry is rorting taxpayers out of tens of millions of dollars.

In a public statement today, the list MP says he wants customs minister Maurice Williamson to look into a loophole he says could be costing between $30 million and $40 million in avoided taxes.

He alleges “vast” quantities of cigarettes were imported and stockpiled in warehouses towards the end of last year, before the January 1 tax increase of 10%.

He says those cigarettes were then re-exported overseas after January 1 and the tobacco industry claimed back the increased excise tax.

“They were even chartering planes at huge expense to fly cigarettes into the country and stockpile them in warehouses to meet the 31 December deadline. That's how lucrative this scheme is.” 

However, when asked by NBR ONLINE to provide evidence, Mr Williams could not and his claims were rubbished by an industry source.

“I don’t know how much was imported.

“I have no idea who was doing it, but it’s people involved obviously in the tobacco industry in the know.

“I’ve got no figures or documents, only information from people who’ve witnessed it and seen it and said there’s definitely something going on here,” he told NBR ONLINE.

Mr Williams was not even sure where the tobacco was being held, only that it was in “various forms of warehouses.”

He is urging the government to act on his "claims."

Mr Williamson's press secretary Clint Owens says occasionally tobacco companies will import cigarettes and pay the excise duty, only to have to export the products when they expire.

He says in those cases, the tobacco companies are entitled to be paid their excise tax as they paid it when the tobacco was imported.

Others told NBR ONLINE New Zealand Customs went to great lengths to make sure the excise tax paid on export was exactly the same as what was paid on import – no higher and no lower.

One of the country’s biggest tobacco companies, British American Tobacco produces its cigarettes in Australia and is frequently importing large container loads into the country - all of which is legitimate.

bcunningham@nbr.co.nz


16 · Got a question about this story? Leave it in Comments & Questions below.


This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags

Post Comment

16 Comments & Questions

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

I've got no evidence that he put much intelligent thought into his position.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Much like when he was mayor, then? Perhaps he should txt the PM in the middle of the night about it. How is it that we get to pay these guys to be professional plonkers?

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Or that he puts intelligent thought into any of his statements.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

The dude thought it would be a vote-catcher, the same way he sees himself as a nature-lover by watering council trees.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

What a dick. Obviously not a very good leak. P*ssy.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

A classic example of why List MPs are a waste of space. Kiwis deserve better in Parliament than this unelected idiot.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

While I agree Williams is an idiot, the fact that he is an unelected MP has nothing to do with it. He was born that way. The real idiot is the party leader who chose him

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Sounds like smart business to me.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

It hardly sounds feasible in light of the excise tax issue itself, as explained by the minister's office. But in the context of the plain packaging debate (and the focus already on big multinationals like Google and Facebook seemingly avoiding tax by using offshore structures), it would be truly bizarre if the tobacco companies would be so monumentally foolish to risk a massive public relations own goal for the sake (arguably) of a possible marginal excise tax difference.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

And what if this rumour is true? I wouldn't expect Maurice Williamson to raise an eyebrow, let alone an investigation.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

I'd like to see an investigation on the effects of public urination on council trees.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Oh sure, beat up on tobacco. Bet he has little to say about booze.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Smokes need to be far cheaper to compete with overseas prices. It is a rort in that sense.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Andrew Williams is, and always was, a first class jerk. Anyone who believes a word he says is an idiot. This includes the media.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Check out Andy's tie; it's a cheap pre-knotted one on an elastic band.
A fitting sartorial statement to match his political nous.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

No need for evidence - just make an outrageous claim. Certainly seems to have learnt the Winston way..

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Post New comment or question

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.6646 -0.0024 -0.36%
AUD 0.8922 0.0004 0.04%
EUR 0.6039 0.0001 0.02%
GBP 0.4300 0.0025 0.58%
HKD 5.1573 -0.0130 -0.25%
JPY 81.5390 -0.2200 -0.27%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1170.1 4.160 2015-07-06T00:
Oil Brent 57.0 -1.590 2015-07-06T00:
Oil Nymex 52.8 -4.450 2015-07-06T00:
Silver Index 15.7 0.191 2015-07-06T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 5776.6 5816.5 5776.6 0.46%
NASDAQ 4993.8 5002.0 4991.9 0.11%
DAX 10930.0 10946.9 10890.6 -1.96%
DJI 17684.9 17793.5 17683.6 0.53%
FTSE 6535.7 6543.8 6535.7 -1.58%
HKSE 25391.8 25439.3 25236.3 -1.03%
NI225 20354.2 20428.0 20112.1 1.31%