Joy of (international) tax a theme for professorial lecture

09 September 2011

Professor Craig Elliffe

International tax treaties and the special status these bilateral agreements enjoy was the subject of the inaugural professorial lecture of recently appointed Department of Commercial Law Professor Craig Elliffe in August.

Elliffe, Professor of Taxation Law and Policy in the Department, spoke on "The Joy of (International) Tax" in front of a 150 strong audience on 10 August. An inagural lecture is a "right of passage" for all newly appointed professors on a topic related to their research.

The growth of international business has led to an increasing number of cross-border transactions, and consequently international tax issues, Elliffe says. As with all law, tax legislation and double tax agreements needed to be interpreted in context.

“One of the advantages of the study and practice of international tax is that there is more assistance available for interpreting international tax law than there is for domestic law,” he says.

“This is due to the existence of the OECD Model Treaty and Commentaries, and the principles of common interpretation and reciprocity which may allow the use, in limited circumstances, of foreign cases.”

In the lecture, Elliffe – whose research areas are international tax, corporate tax and tax avoidance – used a simple case study involving a person who was a dual resident of Australia and New Zealand to show how the Treaty would apply a tie-breaker test in order to overcome the possible adverse effects of double taxation.

Elliffe entered academia after spending several decades as a tax partner with KPMG and Chapman Tripp. He is the author of the book Dividend Imputation: Practice and Procedure and has been published in leading academic journals such as the British Tax Review, the New Zealand Business Law Quarterly, the Journal of Business Law and the New Zealand Journal of Tax Law and Practice.

He is also a sought-after media tax expert, penning opinion pieces and articles for the New Zealand Herald and appearing on television and radio news programmes.