FROM THE FRONT PAGE

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

Queen­stown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden has also been in­volved and said it might also have fi­nan­cial reper­cus­sions for the dis­trict coun­cil. ‘‘If you look into the fu­ture from a neg­a­tive point of view there’s some­thing that could come up . . . There’s a small risk. We don’t want to hang the trustees out to dry,’’ she said. The great­est risk was likely to peo­ple who would miss out on hous­ing if the trust was dis­es­tab­lished, she said. A spike in the trust’s ex­penses in the just-pub­lished fi­nan­cial re­port in­cluded a ‘‘six-fig­ure sum’’ paid to Deloittes in the hope they could re­solve the is­sue with In­land Rev­enue but those ef­forts were un­suc- cess­ful to date, Mr Cole said. ‘‘We have had as­sur­ances from Wellington that the mat­ter is be­ing looked at but we’ve had no ad­vice . . . on how they plan to ad­dress it.’’ A work­ing party in­clud­ing trea­sury, In­land Rev­enue and the so­cial hous­ing unit is look­ing at the is­sue. A rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Min­is­ter of Hous­ing Nick Smith told the Mir­ror Mr Smith was ‘‘very aware of the is­sue.’’ ‘‘It is a com­plex tax is­sue and he needs to re­spect the in­de­pen­dence of the Char­i­ties Com­mis­sion and the High Court rul­ing,’’ she said. ‘‘The min­is­ter is cur­rently re­view­ing pol­icy around so­cial hous­ing providers like the Queen­stown Lakes Com­mu­nity Hous­ing Trust as he is keen to grow the com­mu­nity pro­vi­sion of so­cial hous­ing and recog­nises that this tax rul­ing makes it more dif­fi­cult.’’ He hoped to have a res­o­lu­tion to the is­sue by the end of the year, she said. In­land Rev­enue de­clined to com­ment, cit­ing tax­payer con­fi­den­tial­ity. The So­cial Hous­ing Unit did not re­spond be­fore dead­line. A spokesper­son for CluthaSouth­land MP Bill English said he was in the United States and un­avail­able for com­ment. The trust in­vests in af­ford­able homes to as­sist low to mid­dle in­come earn­ers into homes as own­ers or renters in one of the most ex­pen­sive dis­tricts in New Zealand. Mr Cole said the onus was on the Gov­ern­ment to sort the is­sue out as it was heav­ily in­volved in the trust’s de­vel- op­ment, in­clud­ing pay­ing for the draft­ing of the trust deed and an in­de­pen­dent re­view of it and a re­view of the trust’s ac­tiv­i­ties. It also checked and ap­proved each in­di­vid­ual house­hold and trans­ac­tion in the early stages. ‘‘It’s fair to say the Crown’s en­dorse­ment and fin­ger­prints were all over the de­sign and ap­proval of the en­tity, the trust deed and the ac­tiv­i­ties of the trust it­self. ‘‘The trust has done ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing in a trans­par­ent fash­ion. ‘‘To find it­self now with a tax sta­tus that is in­con­sis­tent with all the other hous­ing trusts in the coun­try is dif­fi­cult to fathom.’’ Ms van Uden said it would be com­mon­sense to re­turn the trust to some sort of char­ity sta­tus.

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