Cook Islands: Ministry of Finance

Cook Islands Ministry of Finance News


The Prime Minister, Minister for Tourism and Minister for Immigration, the Honourable Henry Puna, announced today that the requirement for people departing the Cook Islands to complete a departure form would cease from 1 August 2015.   
The Prime Minister indicated that he had been approached in recent months by representatives of the tourism industry to review the process of requiring international passengers leaving the Cook Islands having to fill out a departure card.
“We have balanced our need to collect information on arrival and departures and the corresponding bureaucracy which has become redundant with the onset of technology.  The completion of a departure card, whilst appropriate many years ago to ensure the credibility of our immigration system, has become a needless process because of our new system which does the work for us.  I am particularly happy with the way the different agencies got together, recognised that an improvement was need, and worked through this issue to come up with a solution, including MFEM, MFAI, FSC and Tourism.”
From 1 August anyone leaving the Cook Islands will only have to check in and follow the normal security checks before immigration processing.  Arrival cards will still need to be completed.
Ms Myra Patai, the acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, pointed out that all immigration data is captured electronically through the border management system. “For some years now we have captured this information electronically, and the presentation of a passport to an immigration officer, is the equivalent of making a declaration.”    
The Chief Statistician, Taggy Tangimetua outlined that MFEM no longer inputs the details from the cards into the statistical system as the information is extracted from the border management system.  “A number of years ago, our officers would essentially re-input all the information from both the departure and arrival cards, now we import the information electronically into our statistical database which allows my staff to do higher value work.”  
Halatoa Fua, the CEO of the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation emphasised the need to continually review government processes and to appreciate what adds value and what does not.  “We are in a competitive environment, anything we can do that can improve the visitor experience without compromising our genuine regulatory requirements is welcome.”    
Head of the FIU, Mr Bob Williams outlined that there is still a requirement for departing passengers to declare carriage of any monies or financial instruments with a value of NZD10,000 or greater, or its foreign equivalent, and that a sign have been placed in the vicinity of the departure area which will clearly outline the responsibility of passengers to make any such declaration to a customs  officer.
The Prime Minister outlined his Government’s continued efforts to reform areas which will improve the tourist experience. “Over the previous four years we have included the departure tax in the ticket, removed the need for international visitors to acquire a driver’s licence, and now we will remove the departure card.  These are little things but when we add them together we see that the cumulative impact is a large one.”


The Government of the Cook Islands seeks suitable companies, groups or individuals to submit a tender for the Sale of Assets of 20 vehicles. These vehicles will supplement the existing private rental fleet and government fleet which is being used for the transportation of a number of VIPs who will be attending the activities celebrating 50 years of Self Government.

All vehicles will be registered prior to use and sold on the basis that they will be made available for transportation of VIPs during the 50 year celebrations with a number also being required for the combined Pacific Forum Economic and Trade Ministers (FEMM and FTMM) to be held in the week 26 to 31 October 2015. All vehicles will be sold as new by tender on an as-is where is basis.

Tenderers may tender for one or more vehicles for sale by tender Highest or any tender may not necessarily be accepted.


Tenders are to be submitted in hard copy, packaged and labelled "CONFIDENTIAL" in a sealed envelope marked:

Ministry of Finance and Economic Management
1415xx - Government Celebration Vehicles
Tender 4:00 pm Friday 31 July 2015

The tender box will be located at Office of the Public Sector Commission, Old Philatelic Building (Ground floor) Avarua.

CAR TYPES                                       NO.    COLOUR                                     BROCHURE                                                                         

Hyundai Elantra Elite                          9       Black x 4, White x 2, Red x 2

Hyundai Sonata Elite                          5       Black x 4, Blue x 1           

Hyundai IX 35 2.0 Litre 2WD Std      4       Black                                   

Hyundai IX 35 2.0 Litre  2WD Elite   2       Black                                   

For further information in regards to the Sale by Tender for Government VIP Vehicles please contact:

Mr Russell Hynd
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: +682 29511
Tenders Close: 4:00 pm Friday 31 July 2015

 Please visit the Procurement Tender webpage at for more information.





On 19 June 2015 the Parliament of the Cook Islands passed amendments to the Income Tax Act 1997.


From 1 January 2016 the Cook Islands will reduce personal income tax.

                                          Current Rate         From 1 January 2016

             -        11,000                  0%                         0%

  11,001        30,000             18.5%                  17.5%

  30,001        80,000             27.5%                  27.5%

  80,001        and over         30.0%                  30.0%

Minister for Finance, the Honourable Mark Brown pointed out the Government’s desire to reduce income taxes on income earners in the Cook Islands.  

“The Government is keen to reduce income tax in a considered manner, a person on $26,000 per annum (or $500 a week) will receive a further reduction on their annual personal income tax burden by 150 dollars a year on 1 January 2016 and a further 75 dollars on 1 January 2017. 

By 1 January 2017 that individual would have received a total reduction of $1,450 per annum since the commencement of our tax reforms began.”

Minister Brown pointed that the Cook Islands was a low tax jurisdiction on any measure and the Government will continue to aim to keep overall taxation levels low and aim to ensure the burden is spread evenly across society. 


In his speech to Parliament the Minister pointed out that the Cook Islands would move towards signing the OECD's Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement which will see the Cook Islands move towards the automatic exchange of taxation information.  

Financial Secretary, Richard Neves outlined the importance of the Cook Islands signing the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement, which was recently signed by both New Zealand and Australia.

“The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management will outline to Cabinet a proposed timeline, but that the Cook Islands will be exchanging information prior to September 2018.  There will need to be significant effort in modernising systems and processes which we need to start planning for now and technical assistance and increased investment will be required.” 

Currently, the Cook Islands has twenty Tax Information Exchange Agreements (‘TIEA’)s signed with a number of nations, including a number from the European Union and these are listed on the MFEM website.


It is a requirement for anyone with a bank account to provide the bank with an RMD number. From 1 January 2016 a withholding tax of 30 per cent will be applied on interest paid to account holders who have not provided an RMD number to their bank.  This is not a final tax, the taxpayer will be able to offset the tax paid against their annual income tax assessment.

Additionally, banks will now be required to provide to their customers no later than 15 February of each year, an interest earnings certificate for the previous income year (i.e. 1 January to 31 December) showing all amounts of interest paid to the individual customer.


Amendments to the Income Tax Act 1997 clarify that income from a Cook Islands administered trust is taxable only to the trustees and not again, once distributed, to the beneficiaries. Income from foreign trusts will continue to be taxable to Cook Islands beneficiaries.



Signing of TIEA between the Cook Islands and Canada

On Monday, 15th June 2015 the Cook Islands and Canada signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) in Wellington. The Cook Islands High Commissioner His Excellency Tekaotiki Matapo signed the Agreement on behalf of the Cook Islands, with the Canadian High Commissioner Her Excellency Caroline Chretien signing on behalf of Canada.

The signing is testament to the commitment of both countries to working with the global community to promote international cooperation in tax matters. The TIEA allows for either Party to request information from the other country where a specific taxpayer is under investigation, and where there is reason to believe that relevant information is held in the other country. The Agreement strikes a balance between privacy and the need for jurisdictions to enforce their tax laws.

These signings were an important step for the Cook Islands in demonstrating its international cooperation on tax matters and to the principles of transparency and effective exchange of information. The entering into of this agreement is further evidence of the Cook Islands’ commitment to the OECD’s efforts in creating a level playing field in the international arena, encompassing the principals of transparency and effective exchange of information for tax purposes.

This signing makes a total of 20 TIEAs entered into by the Cook Islands, and demonstrates that the Cook Islands has become a leading jurisdiction in the fight against tax evasion. The Cook Islands recently underwent a Phase 2 Peer Review by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, which resulted in a positive report for the Cook Islands.

Photo 2 of TIEA signing


The suite of 2015/16 budget papers is now available on the MFEM website – these include:

  • The Budget Policy Statement
  • Budget Book 1 – Appropriation Bill (Appropriations and Commentary
  • Budget Book 2 – Ministry Budget Statements
  • Budget Book 3 – Capital Plan

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