Living as an Expat in New Zealand
For many Americans living abroad, New Zealand is a dream home. With breathtaking landscapes and an English-speaking population, it’s no wonder thousands of expats have flocked to this island nation. But what are New Zealand’s tax policies like for US citizens?
Here’s what you need to know.
New Zealand Taxes at a Glance
- Primary Tax Forms: IR3
- Tax Year: April 1–March 31
- Tax Deadline: July 7
- Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
- Population: ~5.1 million
- Number of US Expats in New Zealand: Estimated 30,000
- Capital City: Wellington
- Primary Language: English
- Tax Treaty: Yes
- Totalization Agreement: No
What Are Expat Taxes like for Americans Living in New Zealand?
When discussing expat taxes, it’s always worth mentioning the continuing US tax obligations. Every US citizen is required to file an annual US tax return regardless of where they live in the world.
Beyond this, Americans living in New Zealand may also owe certain taxes to their new host country. Let’s take a look at the details of expat taxes in New Zealand.
Who Has to File Taxes in New Zealand?
New Zealand expat tax policies vary based on your residency status. Tax residents are taxed on their worldwide income, while non-residents are taxed only on income that comes from a New Zealand source.
New Zealand also has a third category: transitional residents. Transitional residents are exempt from taxation on most forms of non-New Zealand income. (More on this below.)
However, residents and non-residents who receive all their income from traditional employment are generally not required to file a tax return. This is because employment income is taxed at the source through employer withholdings.
Typically, you will only need to file a New Zealand tax return if you receive non-employment income, such as:
- Foreign income (as a resident of New Zealand)
- Self-employment or business income
- Rental income
- Estate, trust, or partnership income
Who Qualifies as a Tax Resident in the New Zealand?
You will be considered residents for tax purposes if you meet either of the following qualifications:
- You will be considered residents for tax purposes if you meet either of the following qualifications :You are present in New Zealand for more than 183 days in any 12-month period (these days do not have to be consecutive)
- You have a “permanent place of abode” in New Zealand
The details of a permanent place of abode can be complicated. The New Zealand tax authority will consider your living situation, family or business ties to New Zealand, and more when determining if your New Zealand home qualifies as a permanent place of abode.
Then there is the third category of transitional residency. This applies to individuals who have only recently become residents. As soon as an expat meets either of the standards for listed residency above, they are considered transitional residents. They are thus entitled to a 48-month exemption from resident taxation, allowing them to be taxed on only their New Zealand-source income for the first four years of their residency at non-resident rates
What Is the Income Tax Rate in New Zealand?
The income tax rate for US citizens living in New Zealand will depend on your residency status.
Residents are taxed at progressive rates, shown below. (All amounts given in NZD.)
NZ Income Tax Rate
|Earnings in NZD||Rate Applicable to Income Level (%)|
|0 – 14,000||10.5%|
|14,001 – 48,000||17.5%|
|48,001 – 70,000||30%|
|70,001 – 180,000||33%|
Non-residents, on the other hand, are taxed at a flat rate of 15%.
As you can see, New Zealand’s tax rates are relatively low compared to many other countries, making it a favorable country for US expats to call home.
What Is the Deadline for Tax Returns in New Zealand?
Unlike the US, the New Zealand tax year does not align with the calendar year. Instead, New Zealand’s tax year starts on April 1 and runs to March 31. For expats who are required to file an annual tax return, the due date is July 7.
Pro Tip: If you enroll with a tax agency, there is an automatic filing extension to March 31 of the following year.
If you owe a tax debt of more than 2,500 NZD, you must pay it in three installments over the course of the tax year. The due dates for these payments are:
- August 28
- January 15
- May 7
What Other Types of Taxation Does New Zealand Have?
In addition to the annual income tax, New Zealand also imposes several other forms of taxation. These include:
- Goods and Services Tax (17.5% on all applicable goods and services)
- Corporate Tax (28% of profits for qualifying businesses)
- Fringe Benefit Tax (typically 49.25% of all non-salary benefits provided by an employer)
- Excise Duty on certain products, such as alcohol, tobacco, and some fuels
New Zealand has no official capital gains tax, though certain capital gains are taxed through separate tax regimes. If you are claiming gains, we recommend consulting a tax professional to determine your liability.
Does the US Have a Tax Treaty with New Zealand?
Yes. The US-New Zealand tax treaty defines which country an expat will owe income taxes to, reducing the risk of double taxation. Typically, whichever country considers you a resident for tax purposes will receive your income tax debt.
Does the US Have a Totalization Agreement with the New Zealand?
No. The US and New Zealand do not currently have a totalization agreement in place. This means that Americans who live and work in New Zealand may be required to contribute to both nations’ social security systems.
Get Expert Help from an Expat Tax Professional
We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of what taxes are like for US citizens living in New Zealand.
Still have questions? We have answers!
At Greenback Expat Tax Services, we specialize in helping expats manage their US tax obligations. Contact us, and we can give you all the information you need. In fact, we can even prepare and file your expat taxes on your behalf.
Just let us know how we can help you, and we’ll be happy to lend a hand!