Expat Living In New Zealand

Living overseas in New Zealand offers life in a country of natural beauty. The majority of the cities are located on the North Island, while the South Island is well known for its breathtaking countryside, mountains and vast range of outdoor activities. New Zealand is a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities and there is a distinct multi-cultural feel to the entire nation. New Zealand is an extremely safe and clean country and the low cost of living makes it an excellent expat destination.

Below is a list of our top 10 most attractive New Zealand cities for foreigners to reside in (in no particular order):

  • Auckland
  • Christchurch
  • Dunedin
  • Wellington
  • Hamilton
  • Palmerston North
  • Queenstown Lakes
  • Selwyn
  • North Shore
  • Ashburton

Guide To US Expat Tax In New Zealand

The Tax Samaritan country guide to US expat tax in New Zealand is intended to provide a general review of the tax environment of New Zealand and how that will impact your U.S. expatriate tax return as a U.S. Expat In New Zealand. As a U.S. taxpayer, all worldwide income is subject to taxation and reporting and for most expatriates you are required to file a U.S. tax return on an annual basis due on April 15 each year (June 15 if you are residing overseas on the April 15 deadline). The tax treatment for different classes of income can vary greatly from New Zealand and the U.S. For example, certain benefits may be tax free or excluded from taxable income in the New Zealand, but in the U.S. these benefits are likely to be non-qualified benefits that are subject to being included as taxable income in U.S. As such, there are a number of considerations related to US expat tax in New Zealand and this brief article will address a few of those considerations.

New Zealand Expat Income Taxes


Who Is Liable For Income Taxes In New Zealand

In New Zealand, resident individuals are subject to income tax on worldwide income. Nonresident individuals pay tax on New Zealand-source income only.

Who Is A New Zealand Tax Resident

A tax resident of New Zealand includes the following individuals:

  • Individuals that have a permanent place of abode in New Zealand, regardless of whether they also have a permanent place of abode 
outside New Zealand.
  • Individuals that are physically present in New Zealand for more than 
183 days in any 12-month period.

Tax Year In New Zealand And Tax Filing And Payment Rules

The tax year New Zealand is based on a fiscal year (a fiscal year is any annual period that is not a calendar year reporting period of January 1 to December 31. In New Zealand, the fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31 of the following calendar year. This can cause some challenges as the required tax reporting period on the U.S. individual tax return is the calendar year (January 1 to December 31).

At Tax Samaritan, we can guide you with the compiling and proper reporting of your tax return information on a calendar-year basis. We have many clients that are faced with the challenge of acquiring information based on a calendar year and as our client we will share with you our tips and tricks for acquiring your required calendar year tax information.

Expat Tax Withholding In New Zealand

Salary and wage earners generally have tax deducted from their salaries at source under the Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) system.

What You Need To Know About Living And Working In New Zealand For Your U.S. Expat Tax Return

When dealing with US expat tax in New Zealand, there a number of preferential expat tax treatments that may benefit your U.S. expatriate tax return. In fact, for many U.S. expats it will reduce your U.S. taxes to zero.

Some of these preferential tax treatments or benefits for US expat tax in New Zealand include the:

  • If you are a U.S. citizen or a resident alien of the United States and you live in New Zealand, US expat tax in New Zealand is based on your worldwide income and as such must file a U.S. return for all the years that you are residing in New Zealand. However, as a U.S. expat you may qualify to reduce your U.S. taxable income up to an amount of your foreign earnings that is adjusted annually for inflation ($99,200 for 2014). In addition, you can exclude or deduct certain foreign housing amounts. This is known as the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and foreign housing exclusion .
  • When it comes to US expat tax in New Zealand, most US expatriates worry about “double taxation” – paying taxes to two different countries – the U.S. and New Zealand. A U.S. taxpayer working overseas in New Zealand may be able to reduce U.S. taxable income and “double taxation” by claiming the Foreign Tax Credit on Form 1116. Should any foreign income not be fully offset by the foreign earned income exclusion, housing exclusion or housing deduction, the foreign tax credit paid or accrued may be used as a deduction or credit on the U.S. tax return. Taxpayers can elect to either deduct the taxes as an itemized deduction on Schedule A or claim a credit against tax. In most cases, it is to your advantage to take foreign income taxes as a tax credit.

A common but dangerous mistake is the assumption that if there are zero taxes owed with these tax benefits that a return for US expat tax in New Zealand does not need to be filed. That is not true. If you are working overseas, it is likely that you meet the filing requirements to file a tax return and must do so. It is important to note that the preferential tax treatments, such as the foreign earned income exclusion and foreign tax credit are not applicable to the outcome of your tax liability until they are claimed on a filed tax return.

When faced with US expat tax in New Zealand there are many tax items to consider, but the above are by far the most common preferential tax benefits. With top-notch experienced and knowledgeable expat tax preparation from Tax Samaritan, you can be assured that you are paying the minimal amount of U.S. taxes that you are legally obligated for.

U.S. – New Zealand Social Security Totalization Agreement

The United States has entered into agreements, called Totalization Agreements, with several nations for the purpose of avoiding double taxation of income with respect to social security taxes. These agreements must be taken into account when determining whether any alien is subject to the U.S. Social Security/Medicare tax, or whether any U.S. citizen or resident alien is subject to the social security taxes of a foreign country.

New Zealand does not have a social security system requiring compulsory contributions from employees. Thus, New Zealand has not entered into a Totalization Agreement with the United States thus there is opportunity to avoid double taxation of social security income for US expat tax in New Zealand.

New Zealand Foreign Bank Account Reporting – The FBAR (FinCen Form 114)

Another important tax deadline that frequently applies to US expat tax in New Zealand is in regards to the disclosure of foreign assets on the FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report – Form 114 – formerly known as TD F 90-22.1).

The FBAR filing deadline is June 30th (or the preceding business day if June 30th falls on a weekend). Unfortunately, requesting an extension on your individual return does not extend the FBAR due date – there is no extension available for the FBAR deadline. Any reports filed after this date are considered a delinquent FBAR. In addition, the FBAR is different than many other tax forms in that it must be received by the deadline date (and not postmarked by the deadline date).

The FBAR must be filed with the Treasury Department (it is not filed with your federal income tax return) whenever you meet the FBAR filing requirements, which in a nutshell is whenever a U.S. person has a financial interest in, or signature authority over a foreign financial account, including a bank account, brokerage account, mutual fund, trust or other type of foreign financial account (including an insurance policy with a cash value such as a whole life insurance policy) maintained with a financial institution, with an aggregate value of over $10,000 at any time during the calendar year based on the highest value of each foreign account during the tax year.

If you have bank accounts at National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank (CBA), Westpac, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) or at another bank in New Zealand or any other foreign country, you may meet the filing requirement to disclosure your foreign accounts on the FBAR. Please don’t hesitate to contact Tax Samaritan to learn more about your filing requirements.

Qualified Dividends In New Zealand For Your Foreign Corporation or Investment

Since 2003, dividends paid to individual shareholders from either a domestic corporation or a “qualified foreign corporation” are subject to tax at the reduced rates applicable to certain capital gains. A qualified foreign corporation includes certain foreign corporations that are eligible for benefits of a comprehensive income tax treaty with the United States. New Zealand foreign corporations are eligible for this lower “qualified” dividend rate and can be a significant benefit for reduced US expat tax in New Zealand.

U.S.- New Zealand Tax Treaty And Tax Relief For US Expat Tax In New Zealand

The U.S. currently has a tax treaty with New Zealand. Please click on the link to the U.S. – New Zealand Tax Treaty.

Our goal at Tax Samaritan is to provide the best counsel, advocacy and personal service for our US expat tax in New Zealand. We are not only tax preparation and representation experts, but strive to become valued business partners to American expatriates in New Zealand. Tax Samaritan is committed to understanding our client’s unique needs; every tax situation is different and requires a personal approach in providing realistic and effective solutions.