Navigating Business Tax in NZ

Navigating Business Tax in NZ

As a business owner in New Zealand, understanding and effectively managing your tax obligations is crucial for long-term success. Tax might not be the most exciting topic, but getting it right can save you serious cash (and hassles with the IRD). This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about business tax in NZ - the different types, factors influencing your rates, smart tax tips, and how to stay ahead of policy changes. Consider it your tax tactical playbook!

Tax Breakdown


In New Zealand, businesses pay three main types of tax [2]:

  • Income Tax: This is calculated based on your company's annual profits at a flat rate of 28%.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST): If your annual turnover exceeds $60,000, you must register and charge 15% GST on your goods/services. You can claim GST credits on business expenses.
  • Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT): This covers any non-cash benefits provided to employees like company cars or discounted goods/services. The FBT rate is 49%.


What Affects Your Tax Rate?

While the statutory rates are straightforward, some key factors can influence how much tax your business pays [4]:

Annual Income: Higher-earning companies generally face higher tax rates, though there may be exceptions.
Industry Sector: Certain industries like R&D may qualify for special tax incentives or deductions.
Business Structure: Companies have a lower tax rate than sole traders/individuals. Trusts and partnerships have their own quirks too.
Deductions & Credits: Maximising all the expenses, depreciation, and tax credits you're entitled to claim can significantly reduce taxable income.

The tax pros recommend regularly reviewing your situation to ensure you have the optimal business structure and are taking advantage of all deductions.

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9 Pro Tips to Minimise Your Tax Bill


  1. Plan (and Save) Ahead for Taxes: No one likes a surprise tax bill. Set up a separate interest-earning account and diligently put aside funds from each payment to cover taxes and ACC levies. The interest can help cover your ACC too! [Source 6]
  2. Leverage Accounting Tools: Using online accounting software can make record-keeping, deduction claims, tax filing and more much easier and keeps everything you need organised in one place. [Source 6]
  3. Optimise Your Business Structure: As a company, you could save thousands vs operating as a sole trader. Regularly reviewing your structure is wise. [1]
  4. Claim All Valid Business Deductions: Vehicle costs, accounting fees, home office expenses - claim everything allowed to reduce taxable income. Just be sure to maintain proper documentation! [1, 2]
  5. Maximise Depreciation Deductions: Depreciating your business assets like equipment and intellectual property over time is another great way to increase deductions. There are rules around calculation methods though, so loop in your accountant. [1, 2]
  6. Do Good, Reduce Tax with Donations: Companies can claim donations to approved charities and organisations as an expense. Sole traders get rebates too - just keep those donation receipts! [1]
  7. Bring Your Wheels to Work: Using a vehicle for business purposes may allow more deductions. But there are conditions around factors like personal usage, record-keeping, fringe benefit tax, etc. Get your accountant to run the numbers. [ 1]
  8. Be Punctual with Payments: The IRD chases late filers with penalties and interest charges. Always file and pay taxes on time - 7 July if you DIY or 31 March with a tax agent. [1]
  9. Bring in the Accounting Aces: A proactive accountant will look for ways to minimise your tax liability all year through smart strategies. Their fees could pay for themselves many times over. [1, 5]

Bonus Tip:  Only get the professional help you truly need. For simple tax situations, DIY with software. For complex situations, leverage an accountant's expertise. [Source 6]


Stay Ahead of Tax Policy Changes

Tax laws and regulations are constantly evolving in NZ. Businesses must stay informed about new policy updates that could impact tax rates, deductions, credits and more. [4]
Some recent key changes and proposals include:

  • Reinstating the option to deduct interest on residential investment properties
  • Replacing the existing ten and five-year bright-line tests with a new two-year bright-line test
  • Eliminating the option to depreciate commercial properties
  • Changing how taxes are handled when disposing of trading stock below market value

The key takeaway? With proper preparation and the right team, you can master the complexities of business tax in NZ. Implement these tips to optimise your tax position and keep more profits where they belong - in your business!

Preparing to sell your business at tax time? Avoid early termination fees by transferring your contract to the new owner. Get started here.



[1]  '8 Tax Saving Tips Every Kiwi Business Owner Should Know', Updated on 

[2]  'Reducing your tax bill',

[3] 'Sole trader tax tips for the new financial year'

[4]  'Year-end tax reminders checklist', BDO New Zealand

[5] 'Kickstart your financial year with these 7 tax tips', 27 April 2023,

[6] 'Making tax time easier',



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