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Budget 2017 Home Page Budget Economic and Fiscal Update 2017

Significant Accounting Policies

The accounting policies set out below have been applied consistently to all periods in the Budget Update.

Revenue

Taxation revenue levied through the Crown's sovereign power

The Government provides many services and benefits that do not give rise to revenue. Further, payment of tax does not of itself entitle a taxpayer to an equivalent value of services or benefits, since there is no relationship between paying tax and receiving Crown services and transfers. Such revenue is received through the exercise of the sovereign power of the Crown in Parliament.

Tax revenue is recognised when a taxable event has occurred and the tax revenue can be reliably measured. The taxable event is defined as follows:

Revenue type Revenue recognition point
Source deductions When an individual earns income that is subject to PAYE
Resident withholding tax (RWT) When an individual is paid interest or dividends subject to deduction at source
Fringe benefit tax (FBT) When benefits are provided that give rise to FBT
Income tax The earning of assessable income during the taxation period by the taxpayer
Goods and services tax (GST) When the purchase or sale of taxable goods and services occurs during the taxation period
Customs and excise duty When goods become subject to duty
Road user charges and motor vehicle fees When payment of the fee or charge is made
Other indirect taxes When the debt to the Crown arises
ACC levies The levy revenue is earned evenly over the levy period
Other levies When the obligation to pay the levy is incurred

The New Zealand tax system is predicated on self-assessment where taxpayers are expected to understand the tax laws and comply with them. Inland Revenue has implemented systems and controls (eg, performing audits of taxpayer records) in order to detect and correct situations where taxpayers are not complying with the various acts it administers.

Revenue earned through operations

Revenue from the supply of goods and services to third parties is measured at the fair value of consideration received. Revenue from the supply of goods is recognised when the significant risks and rewards of ownership have been transferred to the buyer. Revenue from the supply of services is recognised on a straight-line basis over the specified period for the services unless an alternative method better represents the stage of completion of the transaction.

Interest revenue

Interest revenue is accrued using the effective interest method.

The effective interest rate exactly discounts estimated future cash receipts through the expected life of the financial asset to that asset's net carrying amount. The method applies this rate to the principal outstanding to determine interest revenue each period.

Dividend revenue

Dividend revenue from investments is recognised when the Government's rights as a shareholder to receive payment have been established.

Rental revenue

Rental revenue is recognised in the statement of financial performance on a straight-line basis over the term of the lease. Lease incentives granted are recognised evenly over the term of the lease as a reduction in total rental revenue.

Donated or subsidised assets

Where an asset is acquired for nil or nominal consideration, the fair value of the asset received is recognised as revenue in the statement of financial performance.

If control of the donated assets is conditional on the satisfaction of performance obligations, the revenue is deferred and recognised when the conditions are satisfied.

Gains

Gains may be reported in the Statement of Financial Performance when assets are revalued or liabilities are devalued in certain circumstances as described in the accounting policies for those assets and liabilities. For the purposes of reporting the operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) these gains are excluded from total revenue and presented elsewhere in the Statement of Financial Performance.

Expenses

General

Expenses are recognised in the period to which they relate.

Welfare benefits and entitlements

Welfare benefits and entitlements, including New Zealand Superannuation, are recognised in the period when an application for a benefit has been received and the eligibility criteria have been met.

Grants and subsidies

Where grants and subsidies are at the government's discretion until payment, the expense is recognised when the payment is made. Otherwise, the expense is recognised when the specified criteria for the grant or subsidy have been fulfilled and notice has been given to the government.

Interest expense

Interest expense is accrued using the effective interest method.

The effective interest rate exactly discounts estimated future cash payments through the expected life of the financial liability to that liability's net carrying amount. The method applies this rate to the principal outstanding to determine interest expense each period.

Losses

Losses may be reported in the Statement of Financial Performance when assets are devalued or liabilities are revalued in certain circumstances as described in the accounting policies for those assets and liabilities. For the purposes of reporting the operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) these losses are excluded from total expenses and presented elsewhere in the Statement of Financial Performance.

Foreign currency

Transactions in foreign currencies are initially translated at the foreign exchange rate at the date of the transaction. Foreign exchange gains and losses resulting from the settlement of such transactions and from the translation at year-end exchange rates of monetary assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies are recognised in the statement of financial performance, except when recognised in the statement of comprehensive revenue and expense when hedge accounting is applied.

Non-monetary assets and liabilities measured at historical cost in a foreign currency are translated using the exchange rate at the date of the transaction. Non-monetary assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currencies and measured at fair value are translated into New Zealand dollars at the exchange rate applicable at the fair value date. The associated foreign exchange gains or losses follow the fair value gains or losses to either the statement of financial performance or the statement of comprehensive revenue and expense.

Foreign exchange gains and losses arising from translating monetary items that form part of the net investment in a foreign operation are reported in a translation reserve in net worth and recognised in the statement of comprehensive revenue and expense.

Sovereign receivables and taxes repayable

Receivables from taxes, levies and fines (and any penalties associated with these activities) as well as social benefit receivables which do not arise out of a contract are collectively referred to as sovereign receivables.

Receivables arising from sovereign revenue will be initially recognised at fair value. These receivables are subsequently adjusted for penalties and interest as they are charged, and tested for impairment. Interest and penalties charged on tax receivables are presented as tax revenue in the statement of financial performance.

Taxes repayable represent refunds due to taxpayers and are recognised at their nominal value. They are subsequently adjusted for interest once account and refund reviews are complete.

Financial Instruments - forecasting policies

For forecast purposes sales and purchases of bonds and other liquid instruments are assumed to be issued at par value, with no discounts or premiums forecasted. Generally, financial assets and financial liabilities held at the forecast reference date are assumed to be held until they mature.

Forecasts of instruments that have non-market elements (e.g. low or no interest rates with long maturities such as student loans or social benefit receivables) include the write-down to fair value when the loan or receivable is forecast to be issued and the revenue from the effective interest unwind.

Interest income and interest expense are recognised using the effective interest rate method (which in most instances will equal the coupon rate for future instruments).

Forecasts use the exchange rates, interest rate curves and electricity pricing curves prevailing at the forecast reference date. As a consequence, no additional realised or unrealised foreign exchange gains or losses are forecast.

Gains and losses reflect long run rate of return assumptions appropriate to the forecast portfolio mix, after adjusting for interest income and interest expense (recognised separately using the effective interest rate method).

Derivatives

Only the value of derivatives as at the forecast reference date are forecast to be realised. No additional realised or unrealised derivative gains or losses are recognised over the forecast period. Forward margins on forward foreign exchange contracts existing at the start of the forecast period are amortised over the period of the contract on a straight line basis.

Forecasts for derivatives only include those that exist at the forecast reference date, and then only to their maturity. That is, by the end of the forecast period only those derivatives existing at the forecast reference date with a maturity beyond the end of the period should be recognised in the financial statements.

Except in limited circumstances, future derivative activity is not included in forecasts. This is because fair value forecasts of future derivatives are assumed to be zero due to forecast exchange rates being fixed at the rate at the forecast reference date, as are interest rate curves and other assumptions (e.g. electricity pricing curves) affecting the value of derivatives.

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