IRD tax auditors invade resorts

Thursday 25 March 2004

Inland Revenue is mounting an audit blitz on property developers and speculators in Queenstown and Wanaka.

By The Landlord

The IRD wants to ensure tax is being paid on the hundreds of millions of dollars that has been changing hands in the booming property market where it is not unknown for assets to change hands several times within days with each temporary owner making huge profits.

The audit blitz is not confined to developers and speculators.

The IRD is also investigating associated property activities such as construction and related trades.

The full IRD audits appear to have been prompted by reports of huge profits being made in the region; of sections being bought and resold for more than twice as much in less than a year; of comments by real estate agents that people were buying sections and immediately putting them back on the market. Some speculators have bought several sections in large developments.

Inland Revenue southern service manager Carson McNeill confirmed yesterday auditors had been in Queenstown for three weeks going over the books of real estate companies and developers.

The manager of one Queenstown real estate company under investigation said he was first approached by IRD auditors more than a year ago to open the company's books.

"We said no way they had no right to access our books under the privacy laws and they would need to get a letter of official permission to do this."

He heard nothing more until last month when the auditors suddenly reappeared, armed with all the official documentation.

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