A patent lawyer who owes $10.3 million in unpaid taxes told the High Court at Auckland that his Maori descent meant he was not obliged to pay.
John David Hardie was appealing against a decision handed down in Waitakere District Court in March last year in favour of the commissioner of Inland Revenue.
The district court granted judgment by default involving tax of $9.66m and GST of $675,858.81 for a 13-year period up to 2005. They were default – or estimated – assessments made after Hardie failed to file tax and GST returns.
In his judgment on March 19, Justice Lynton Stevens said Hardie had argued he was not required to make tax contributions because he was of Maori descent. No provision was made in the Treaty of Waitangi for him to do so.
In his appeal, Hardie said the district court judge, PJ Recordon, was wrong not to uphold his submission based on Maori descent.
Fortunately, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue takes a different view:
The commissioner argued Parliament had the right to enact legislation imposing taxes and it applied to everyone in New Zealand.
It was also noted that Hardie had not provided evidence of his whakapapa establishing his Maori descent.
Surely, this defence is a non-starter, but we guess that we should give Hardie full marks for trying. We just hope that the Snake-Oil Saleman from St Mary's Bay doesn't read this story and pull a similar stunt over the $158,000 his party oswes the long-suffering taxpayer. But no; we doubt that even Winston Peters would pull that stunt - it's just a wee tad - separatist!