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University of Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand

Tax expert awarded premier Law Foundation scholarship

21 Dec 2018

Professor Craig Elliffe, from the Auckland Law School at the University of Auckland has been awarded the country’s premier legal research grant, the New Zealand International Research Fellowship - Te Karahipi Rangahau ā Taiao

University of Auckland

The award, worth up to $125,000, is for his research project entitled Taxing the Digital Economy. It will examine tax problems created by the digital economy, and propose solutions to this complex international challenge.

The Fellowship will enable Professor Elliffe’s research in New Zealand and overseas to evaluate other countries’ plans for dealing with the issue.

Professor Elliffe says that despite the phenomenal growth of e-commerce in New Zealand and world-wide, many multinationals pay little tax in countries where they do business. And many consider that major multinational companies like Google, Facebook and Airbnb operate in New Zealand without paying a fair amount of tax.

A recent European Union report estimates that the average digitalised business pays an effective tax rate of 9.5 per cent, much lower than other forms of business operated by multinationals.

“There is widespread concern from governments and the public about the low level of income tax paid by companies operating in the digital economy,” he says. “Digital economy companies can transact with customers primarily using the internet, without any taxable presence in the country concerned.”

“My project examines the tax problems created by the digital economy in order to evaluate international strategies to address the issue and suggest potential solutions from a New Zealand perspective,” Dr Elliffe says.

"There is widespread concern from governments and the public about the low level of income tax paid by companies operating in the digital economy."

Professor Craig ElliffeAuckland Law School

He will work with politicians, tax policy officials and academia, and he expects to produce a monograph, symposia and public conference to discuss and debate solutions.

Professor Elliffe holds the following qualifications: BCom, LLB (hons) (Otago), LLM (hons), PhD (Cambridge), and FCA (Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand). He is a current member of the New Zealand Government’s tax working group.

He teaches international tax and numerous other tax subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate level (in the Master of Taxation Studies degree). The Master of Taxation Studies degree is New Zealand’s premier tax qualification.

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