Snippets: May – Jul 2020

Can you steal GST?

Whether a price includes GST or not is important to know for the price of a product. In the case between the New Zealand Police and Genesis Pure, ‘GST’ became the difference between a maximum penalty of seven years in jail, or one.

Mr Pure was charged with stealing an iPhone and Sim card from The Warehouse. The retail price was $1,004, including GST. The maximum sentence for theft exceeding a value of $1,000 posed a maximum penalty of imprisonment for seven years. However, Mr Pure contested that the value of the iPhone exceeded $500 but not $1,000 because the GST exclusive price was less than $1,000, which carries a maximum term in prison of one year. The District Court agreed with Mr Pure on the basis that The Warehouse would not be obligated to pay GST to IRD for the stolen items. To penalise Mr Pure based on the GST inclusive value was deemed to overcompensate the victim in this instance and produce an unfair outcome for the defendant, especially when the value of theft only marginally exceeded the threshold for higher penalty.

The New Zealand Police did not agree with the above view and has requested a leave to appeal to the High Court. In considering the leave to appeal, the High Court looked at what defines ‘value’. Various cases in overseas jurisdictions provide different views and the Goods and Services Act 1985 does not help.

Ultimately, the High Court viewed value to be objectively considered, not from the perspective of the victim or culprit. The appeal has been allowed and whether the Police pursue prosecution to reflect value in excess of $1,000 remains to be seen.

Lockdown

As we moved into Alert Level 4, it took some time for the rules to be refined and communicated. Not to make light of the importance of the rules, other countries have adopted some ‘interesting’ rules.

Panama implemented ‘gender’ isolation. People could only leave their homes for certain hours of the day, but in some hours Panama restricted this to only females, and during other hours only males. In Colombia movement was limited based on national ID number. Barrancabermeja only allowed those individuals with ID numbers ending in 0, 7 or 4 being allowed out on Monday, while 1, 5, and 8 can go out on a Tuesday. Spain prohibited physical exercise during the lockdown, and as one individual found out, this included cycling to work.

In Michigan, Home Depot was allowed to stay open, but part of the store was closed off. One customer commented you could put up Gib, but you couldn’t paint it. Then when it comes to policing the lockdown and identifying cases of Covid-19, a town in Connecticut is a testing lab for a surveillance programme that uses a new type of drone to identify symptoms from the air.

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