Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



This article seeks to ascertain the breadth of rights that taxpayers enjoy in New Zealand in comparison with their counterparts in a number of common law and civil law jurisdictions. Such a comparison enables the wealth of experience that codification of rights in civil law countries can provide in comparison to the traditionally lower reliance on statutory protection in common law jurisdictions. From this comparative analysis common themes are distilled, as well as differences between New Zealand and various civil law and common law nations with respect to the legal position and state of taxpayers' rights. The author mounts a strong argument that New Zealand taxpayers have been short-changed--in comparison with the selection of civil and common law nations--from a legal (formalistic) perspective, and more recently from an informal point of view. This assertion is evidenced by the absence of a constitution protecting fundamental human rights, minimalist legal protection of rights through statutory means, and the poor attempt at providing a charter of taxpayer rights. Consequently, there is the possibility that a future government may ignore and override not only fundamental taxpayers' rights, but also fundamental human rights. The author concludes by strongly suggesting that it is better to prevent the undesirable from happening rather than resting in what may be a false comfort that a satisfactory level of taxpayers' rights will remain through administrative convention and informality.