FAQs

Does New Zealand offer any incentives to filmmakers?
The New Zealand government has incentives available for the film and television industry

What tax issues are there with filming in New Zealand?
New Zealand has a relatively simple, low-cost tax system compared to other countries.

What passports or work visas do I need to film in New Zealand?
Cast and crew who do not hold New Zealand or Australian passports require a work permit.

Location scouting requires only a tourist visa as applicable to your nationality.

Will you have snow when we are filming?
New Zealand has snow in the winter months of May to September. Most of New Zealand’s snow falls to the east of the Southern Alps in the South Island, and on the Central Plateau of the North Island.

New Zealand’s SFX industry includes a number of experienced artificial snowmaking companies.

What are New Zealand’s labour laws for hiring cast and crew?
New Zealand cast and crew are generally considered to be self-employed independent contractors.

Are New Zealand crews unionised?
No, New Zealand film and television crews are not covered by a union agreement but there is a best practice guide known as “The Blue Book”. This document covers booking procedures, cancellation & postponement, working day and week structures, overtime and turnaround, and truck driving hours.

Does New Zealand have any sound stages?
New Zealand has a variety of sound stage, studio and warehouse options for filming.
http://www.filmnz.com/production-contacts/studio-space.html

Do I need a permit to film in New Zealand?
No specific permit is required to film in New Zealand, however certain locations may require permits.

Taxation

Taxation in New Zealand

New Zealand has a relatively simple, low-cost tax system compared to other countries.
The following information is intended as a guide only.

Summary of Key Taxes & Rates

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Applies to all taxpayers making in aggregate more than $NZ40,000 of supplies in New Zealand in any 12 month period

12.5% on the value of the supply (excluding financial services, domestic accommodation)

Corporate Tax Obligations

The income tax rate is 33% of world-wide taxable income, net of allowable deductions, for companies tax resident in New Zealand, or if non-resident where income is sourced from New Zealand (lower than that of Japan, United States and Canada)

Double Taxation Agreements may provide relief in some circumstances

As most NZ crews are self-employed and take care of their own taxes, there are no compulsory fringe benefit tax obligations. Withholding obligations are noted below

Withholding tax will apply to all actors and performers
Withholding tax will apply to technicians unless they have an exemption certificate
Withholding tax may apply to non-resident crew

Withholding tax may apply to payments to non-residents for the use of equipment.

Personal Tax Obligations

The income tax rate for individuals is 39% to the extent taxable income, net of allowable deductions, is over NZ$60,000 for New Zealand tax residents or if non-resident where income is sourced from New Zealand

Progressive tax rates (19.5% to 33%) apply for taxable income under this amount

No tax free thresholds

Double Tax Agreements may provide relief in some circumstances

The withholding tax deducted by the production company for non resident actors and performers is usually a final tax.

Goods and Services Tax

GST is a value added tax levied at 15% on the supply of goods and services in New Zealand. Financial services (primarily debt and equity instruments) and domestic accommodation are exempt from GST.

Income Tax

New Zealand’s year for income tax purposes is 1 April to 31 March. In certain circumstances approval may be obtained from the Inland Revenue to use a different balance date, such as to align with that used in a foreign jurisdiction.

Income tax is charged on the world-wide taxable income, net of allowable deductions, for entities and individuals tax resident in New Zealand (immigration residency is not relevant).
Non-residents will be subject to income tax on income sourced from New Zealand, or if there is a permanent place of business in New Zealand.

These rules may be modified by Double Taxation Agreements (“DTA’s”) New Zealand has entered into. New Zealand has DTA’s with most developed countries, including the USA, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Corporate Tax Residency

A company is deemed to be tax resident in New Zealand if it is either:

Incorporated in New Zealand, has its head office or centre of management in New Zealand, or

Control of the company by its directors is exercised in New Zealand.

Individual Tax Residency

New Zealand treats individuals as being tax resident in New Zealand if they:

Have a “permanent place of abode” in New Zealand, or

They are physically present in New Zealand for 183 days or more in any 12 month period.

However, individuals who are also tax resident in countries which have a DTA with New Zealand are unlikely to be deemed to be tax resident in New Zealand if they spend less than two years in New Zealand and maintain a permanent home and personal and economic ties in their country or origin.

GST Compliance

Registration

Registration for GST is compulsory where the value of supplies made in new Zealand in the prior 12 month period exceeds $NZ40,000 or there are reasonable grounds for believing that it will exceed $NZ40,000 within the following 12 month period.

Taxable Supplies Made

Any registered person must charge GST at 15% on taxable supplies made in New Zealand.

Taxable Supplies Received

GST will be charged by GST registered suppliers on all production costs incurred in New Zealand, except financial services and domestic accommodation.

Accounting for GST

GST registered persons are required to account for the net GST paid and collected when filing GST returns. The options for filing GST returns are monthly, bi-monthly or six monthly, calculated on an invoice (accruals), payments (cash) or hybrid (mixed accruals/ cash) basis. The GST return is to be filed with the Inland Revenue by the last business day of the month following the end of the GST period.

Withholding Obligations

New Zealand Actors and Crews

Most film crews in New Zealand operate as self-employed individuals, or through service companies.
As such the only withholding obligations are:

20% withhold from any payments to actors or technicians trading as individuals, unless they have a tax exemption certificate;

Some individuals may wish to have more than 20% withholding tax voluntarily deducted from their earnings;

No withholding tax applies to companies.

Any overseas actors or crew who are regarded as New Zealand tax resident (after the application of any DTA) will be treated as New Zealand actors and crew.

Overseas Actors and Crew

Overseas actors and performers are subject to

20% withholding tax on gross earnings from New Zealand, regardless of the time they spend in New Zealand and whether payments are made to them, a service company or agents (there are no exceptions to this rule);

Generally, this is a final tax in New Zealand;

The application of withholding tax to overseas crew is as follows:

If the New Zealand source of income is exempt from tax here under the relevant DTA, and they are in New Zealand for less than 92 days in any 12 month period, no withholding tax will apply;

If they are here for between 92 days and 183 days in any 12 month period and their New Zealand-source of income is exempt from tax under the relevant DTA, they can apply to the Inland Revenue for an exemption from withholding tax, otherwise a withhold of 15% on payments is required;

If payments for contract work amount to less than $15,000 in a 12-month period they will be exempt from withholding tax. Instead, contractors themselves will be responsible for paying any New Zealand tax owing at the end of the year.

If the person is not covered by a DTA, or the period in New Zealand exceeds 183 days in any 12 month period, withholding tax of 15% will apply.
Withholding tax is not a final tax and a personal tax return will need to be filed with personal tax rates applying, less the withholding tax credit.

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