Julia J

Julia Johnston

Direct Dial: +64 3 963 1469
Mobile:  022 513 2160
E-mail: julia.johnston@saunders.co.nz
Office:  Wigram

I have led the tax team at Saunders & Co since starting in 2018. I also specialise in relationship property, and commercial matters. In 2022, I left our city office to become the partner in charge of the Wigram office. With significant growth in the western suburbs, it is important to us to be able to provide first-class legal solutions within the convenience of the suburbs.


Throughout my career I have worked in an international accounting firm, a “big 4” and a boutique tax law firm. I have also spent time working in a large corporate recovery team at an international firm. This combination of law, commerce, and accounting has given me a broad skill base to bring to my clients, whether they are seeking commercial or tax advice. My well-rounded approach is crucial to giving the most accurate and practical advice possible.


I have assisted in a broad range of cases, from IRD audits to advising on the implications of land transactions and have been a speaker for the New Zealand Institute of Legal Executives on land tax issues. My passion is migrant tax issues, and I advise both inbound and outbound residents on their New Zealand tax obligations with the view to structuring for tax efficiency across jurisdictions. 


I assist clients and their advisors with all of their tax advisory requirements. I spend a lot of time working with new migrants advising on their tax obligations in the complex area of international tax. This provides me with a solid background into my client’s affairs which enables me to continue to advise on the many other areas of tax laws once they are established in New Zealand, be it commercial or otherwise.


I also specialise in relationship property, where I assist clients with contracting-out agreements, separation agreements, property divisions, and the various negotiations and other related aspects of such work. Relationship separations are a distressing time in a client’s life. I take a friendly, supportive approach while focused on reaching a practical solution and aim to simplify and clarify these often complex matters.


I am a problem solver, and pride myself on working effectively to reach the best outcomes for my client, no matter the area of concern, while making the process as simple and stress-free as possible. 


My move to Wigram allows me to assist clients in my local area and I am passionate about building even stronger links with the south western suburbs, where I have lived since a child.



I specialise in the following areas:

What My Clients Say

“Julia Johnston has been great to deal with. She was very professional and explained everything clearly – both in person and via email.” Oct 2019

Catherine and Josh

“Julia Johnston’s empathy for our situation, coupled with her sound subject knowledge and passion for what she does, was priceless… this made all the difference to us.” Dec 2019

Janice Wickes

“Julia Johnston, thanks, I really appreciate everything you have done for me. I don’t believe I would be trading today without you.” Sep 2019

Name withheld for commercial reasons

"I had a fantastic experience with Saunders & Co. Julia Johnston is as caring as she is proficient. Her level-head and laser-focus cut through the emotional chaos of my case and highlighted only the facts. Every step of the way, she kept me informed, encouraged me to think things through and made sure I was completely comfortable. And she did it all while I remained overseas. She and her team navigated that added level of difficulty with ease and grace. She is honest, well-spoken, thorough, and proactive. She was a joy to work with, always bringing a bit of sunshine and optimism. Her tenacity and commanding knowledge of law brought a settlement better than I dared dream. I am incredibly grateful!" May 2021

Melinda Perkins

"Julia's team was fast, logical, efficient, and extremely professional. Any challenge that came up they handled ethically and effectively. I am incredibly impressed and happy with the calibre of their work." August 2021

R Kerr

Julia Johnston was amazing in my recent separation case.  She explained everything in clear terms and answered all of my questions

She encouraged me to continue when I felt like throwing in the towel!

She is astute, compassionate, incredibly intelligent and blew the defence away when speaking for me in court.

I am very happy with the outcome of my case. Feb 2022


19 April 2022

Free Seminar on NZ and US Tax Issues

  Are you a US citizen who has moved to New Zealand in the last four years? Are you aware of your ongoing tax obligations in both New Zealand and the USA? If not, then join us for a FREE seminar to discuss NZ…

Read More

11 October 2021

Asset protection; Before, During and After

Divorces and separations are emotionally draining and often involve heightened emotions.

Read More

28 September 2021

Interest Deductibility and New Builds - does the Draft Legislation Stack Up?

On 28 September 2021, the Government released their draft legislation for amendments to interest deductibility legislation and how new builds will be treated for bright-line tax purposes.

Read More

25 August 2021

Tax implications of Government Support Payments during COVID-19

Following the discovery of a community case of the Delta variant of COVID-19, at 11. 59pm on 17 August 2021, New Zealand was placed into Alert Level 4 Lockdown.

Read More

3 August 2021

Inland Revenue Audits and Investigations – What you Should Know

Daunting. Stressful. Time-consuming. What are we describing? Inland Revenue Investigations.   When Inland Revenue investigate your tax affairs, they may choose to send you a “Risk Review” letter, or a notification of audit letter.

Read More

11 June 2021

Limited guidance on Interest limitation rules

On 10 June the Government released their discussion document “Design of the interest limitation rule and additional bright-line rules”. The discussion document provides details on the proposed interest limitation and bright-line rules, following the 23 March 2021 announcements.

Read More

20 May 2021

New Trust Disclosure Rules

From 1 April 2021, there was a new 39% tax bracket for individuals earning above $180,000. However, the tax rate for income from trusts remains at 33%.

Read More

12 May 2021

The Family Home Can Still Attract Bright-line Tax

“Our target is not the family home. ” Whilst that might be true, it is not entirely the result achieved.   If you’re selling your main home, you don’t have to pay tax on the sale.

Read More

16 April 2021

New Requirements for Purchase Price Allocation from 1 July 2021

If you are planning to buy or sell a business this year, you need to be aware of the new purchase price allocation rules which come into effect on 1 July 2021.

Read More

24 March 2021

The Bright-Line Test and Main Home Exemption – What You Need To Know

On 23 March, the Government passed their amendments to the residential-property bright-line test under urgency, and without consultation via a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP).

Read More

23 March 2021

Property Investors Hit Hard by Tax Reforms

The Government has announced huge tax reforms. These tax reforms are attempting to grapple with the housing crisis, and tip the balance of power in the market towards first home buyers and long-term investors.

Read More

3 March 2021

Business Continuity Test Set to Change

The Minister of Revenue has recently indicated his intention to introduce legislation to relax New Zealand’s loss continuity rules. Currently, New Zealand’s loss continuity rules are among the strictest in the world.

Read More

20 November 2020

IRD cracking down on property sales

While New Zealand does not have a comprehensive capital gains tax, we do have a capital gains tax in relation to property known as the bright-line test.

Read More

10 November 2020

Tax Structuring for the 39% Tax Rate

In the 2020 election, Labour promised to introduce a new top tax rate of 39% on income over $180,000, likely to take effect from 1 April 2021.

Read More

20 October 2020

Returning to work early from parental leave

COVID-19 has resulted in some employees on parental leave wanting to return to work early, be it for financial or other reasons.

Read More

4 September 2020

Tax Deductibility and Healthy Homes standards

In mid-August, Inland Revenue released Questions we’ve been asked QB20/01 Can owners of existing residential rental properties claim deductions for costs incurred to meet Healthy Homes standards? Owners of residential rental properties are required to meet certain minimum standards which…

Read More

27 July 2020

Inland Revenue signals their attention to offshore employers with New Zealand-based employees

With the current global pandemic more and more kiwis are returning home and continuing to work for their offshore employer.

Read More

15 July 2020

Is the Sale of Your Property Subject to Tax?

New Zealanders love property. Buying and selling property in New Zealand is common. What is less commonly known are the tax implications of these transactions. For many years, people have used property as a way to increase their wealth.

Read More

20 April 2020

Tax Considerations for Returning Kiwis

When returning to New Zealand tax is most likely one of the last things people consider (if they consider it at all).

Read More

5 February 2020

The Unknown Tax Cost of Foreign Property

Are you migrating or returning to New Zealand?  Are you aware of the tax implications of such a move?  Many people move to New Zealand having kept overseas properties.

Read More

31 January 2020

Don’t relax on tax

This article was written for a UK publication regarding migration to New Zealand. However, the tax issues are relevant to all migrants.   Don’t let tax spoil your new life in New Zealand.   International tax is a minefield.

Read More

18 September 2019

Inland Revenue to Escalate Investigations into Land Sales

While no comprehensive capital gains tax is being considered in New Zealand at present, there is already a full body of tax law relating to land.

Read More

28 July 2019

You could get caught out by GST when buying a property – even if you are not GST registered

I am frequently asked by clients to assist with the GST implications of a proposed property purchase.

Read More

12 July 2019

Expanding overseas? Make sure you understand the tax implications.

With the world becoming a much smaller place, it is easy for businesses to find themselves trading overseas without too much consideration.

Read More

28 May 2019

GST on Property Transactions – Compulsory Complexity

GST is easy – it’s 15%, 0%, or wrong.   GST is the most common thing that goes wrong in property transactions, due to a widespread lack of understanding by registered parties and professional advisers.

Read More

29 April 2019

Providing an incorrect warranty regarding GST registration proves costly  

  In a recent case, the High Court awarded summary judgement on appeal against a vendor for a breach of warranty in relation to the GST on the sale of land.

Read More

19 March 2019

Confusion still reigns over Capital Gains

With no comprehensive capital gains tax to be implemented and letters from armchair experts filling the local papers, it is timely to familiarise ourselves with the current laws in relation to capital gains on the sale of land.

Read More

9 March 2019

Don’t get caught with a NZ tax bill while you are living overseas

Are you leaving NZ permanently, or going on an extended overseas trip? Make sure you know your tax obligations and how to ensure you break your tax residency in New Zealand so you are not welcomed back to New Zealand…

Read More

19 February 2019

Key staff can cause New Zealand tax headaches for international companies

Are you a director or a key staff member of an offshore business? Did you know that your presence in New Zealand might cause your company to be subject to tax in New Zealand? A company is deemed to be…

Read More