Expert in Tax Law and Taxpayer Defence, Trusts law and Trusts disputes
Geoff’s practice covers all aspects of tax advice and controversy. He advises clients in the course of Inland Revenue investigations. He conducts the formal aspects of the statutory tax disputes process. He litigates tax and related issues, and defends criminal tax charges, before the Courts at trial and appellate levels. His practice also includes trusts related advice, disputes and litigation.
In all these matters Geoff applies focused and objective analysis of his client’s situation, an honest judgment of their position, strategic thinking and compelling advocacy.
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CHAMBERS ASIA PACIFIC, LEADING PRACTITIONER AT THE TAX BAR, 2008 - 2024
INTERNATIONAL TAX REVIEW, TAX CONTROVERSY LEADER, 2011 - 2019
BEST LAWYERS IN NZ 2017 - 2022. AUCKLAND TAX LAWYER OF THE YEAR 2017
FINANCE MONTHLY, NZ TAX LAWYER/FIRM OF THE YEAR, 2018
FINANCE MONTHLY, NZ CIVIL AND CRIMINAL TAX LAWYER OF THE YEAR, 2019
THE LAW REVIEWS EXPERT PANEL 2018 - 2023, TAX DISPUTES AND LITIGATION
WHO'S WHO LEGAL, CORPORATE TAX (CONTROVERSY), 2019 - 2023
WINNER, CCH TAX AWARD, NEW ZEALAND LAW AWARDS, 2012
Sometimes people cut corners with their taxes. Not everything gets returned as it should be. Claims are over stated or income is suppressed. These tax secrets fester away but you can do something about them if you act in time and with the right help. We deal with these issues all the time.
A tax investigation can be intrusive, frustrating and worrying. Tax investigation powers are intimidating but have to be exercised within limits. These procedures have to be managed carefully to avoid cost and increased tax risk. We manage tax investigations daily.
The statutory tax disputes process is complicated and involves strict time frames for the exchange of notices and “sudden death” deadlines. If you miss one of them, you can lose all your rights of dispute and if you omit something it will be difficult to raise it later. We know these procedures thoroughly.
A tax challenge is formal civil litigation in the Taxation Review Authority or the High Court. It requires a winning strategy, tactical sense and persuasive advocacy. We try to keep clients out of court but, if it is needed, we advocate for taxpayers against the IRD at all Court levels.
Tax crime is serious and involves the real risk of prison. If you have not disclosed your default to the IRD and it prosecutes you, an effective defence or mitigation is vital. We appear regularly to defend people who have been charged with tax offenses.
Tax debts can mount up very quickly if they are not managed. Penalties and interest can virtually double the size of a debt in 3 to 4 years. Settling payment terms with the IRD is not a normal commercial negotiation. We deal with this issue for clients all the time.
Tax laws are particularly complicated because they have to cover every aspect of commercial life. Parliament is always changing them to meet new demands and to close loopholes. Many commercial transactions require a tax sign off and responsible taxpayers will seek advice before adopting a course that could have material tax outcomes. Sound tax advice can be insurance against some tax penalties.
Some trusts are well managed and some are not. Trustees do not always understand their obligations and beneficiaries are sometimes disadvantaged by trustee decisions. The new Trusts Act changes the legal landscape. Trustees' duties are clearer and beneficiaries have expanded rights to know about a trust. Importantly, trust disputes can now be resolved using alternative dispute procedures of mediation and arbitration saving the costs of litigation.
The Department of Internal Affairs Charities Service vets, registers and oversees charities. Defining the purposes of an organisation in a way that qualifies as charitable can require professional advice. Adverse decisions as to charitable status may be appealed to the High Court which has marked out a more particular approach to the scope of charitable purposes.
Geoff Clews holds permanent
admission to the Bar of the Cook Islands High Court. He is available to act as counsel in tax disputes and litigation with the Cook Islands Revenue Management Division, and litigation related to the Cook Islands International Trusts and Companies regimes.
This operation targets some 400 wealthy new Zealanders and asks them to disclose a great deal of information about their affairs, much of which is irrelevant to their present tax obligations. The information is being sought under a new inquiry power which allows Revenue to seek information that it considers is relevant to the development of policy for the improvement or reform of the tax system.
Geoff Clews...He's the guy you call after Inland Revenue bursts through your doors and seizes your computers, certain already after months of covert surveillance that you're fiddling your taxes... - Auckland's Best Lawyers, Metro Magazine, August 2008
Geoffrey Clews of Old South British Chambers is active across a comprehensive range of advisory and representational mandates in the taxation sphere, being particularly well known for his work on behalf of clients facing especially serious tax-related issues in both the civil and criminal spheres. He is described as "extremely competent" by one source and as "a distinguished lawyer with a broad practice" by another. Chambers Asia Pacific. New Zealand, the Tax bar, 2022, 2023
"Highly respected".... "great to work with"... "approachable and well versed at thinking outside the box"... "he really performs well." Chambers Asia Pacific reviews 2018-2020.
Geoff Clews stands out as a go-to for civil and criminal tax disputes thanks to his three decades of experience in the field. Who's Who Legal, Asia Pacific, 2021
Geoff, since a young age I have understood the benefit of retaining very capable people, especially when it comes to challenging issues that are quite consequential. Right from the beginning I knew you, like others before, were going to fulfill that same need. Too many people use middle level advisers, get average advice with no connection to the senior ranks of the other party and despite the lower charge out rate, end up paying more. - Client communication on successful completion of a long running case, May 2017.
Geoff Clews has been a long-established leader in the tax law arena, in both a civil and criminal context and is one of the few New Zealand barristers who has developed a strong reputation in the area. His expertise extends from every part of tax issues and at all appellate levels, achieving significant recognition for his expertise in the area, including for his advocacy. - LawFuel "Top Barristers Nudging the Power List," February 2019.
To see other reviews, click here.
Employment and other opportunities at Old South British Chambers
Barrister's room in Chambers available - character space of 43 square metres, with adjacent secretarial bay and use of all Chambers facilities. Available from October 2023. For more information, contact Geoff Clews on 021- 627-737.