10 Jan 2017

Cooks opposition party supports tax amnesty

6:35 am on 10 January 2017

An opposition party in the Cook Islands says it supports the government's proposal for an amnesty on penalties for not paying tax.

The Prime Minister Henry Puna announced the amnesty in his Christmas message.

Opposition shadow finance minister, James Beer, of the Cook Islands Democratic Party, said while the prime minister's announcement was unexpected, the amnesty is in line with a policy developed by his party in 2014 after extensive research.

"So what we wanted to do was to ensure that people could continue to become tax payers, continue to become productive," Mr Beer said.

"When we spoke to people that had large penalties outstanding they were reluctant to get themselves in business or getting back to work and being productive.

"And so it is not necessarily that we are supporting the government on this. It is actually an opposition or a Democratic Party policy from a long time ago."

Mr Beer said his party also proposed a tax credit for taxpayers who'd paid off their penalties before any amnesty.

Cook Islands Democratic Party member James Beer.

Cook Islands Democratic Party member James Beer. Photo: RNZI/Sally Round