Personal Income Tax 

How do I get an IRD number?

An IRD number is your personal tax number which you keep for life, and you should be careful to whom you disclose it. If you do not have an IRD number then any income you earn will be taxed at the higher, no-declaration rate.

You can apply for an IRD number for: 

  • yourself, 
  • your company, partnership, estate, trust, club, society, superannuation scheme or Maori authority
  • a child in your care
  • your newborn (by ticking the appropriate box on the birth registration form)

Which form you need to fill in depends on whether the IRD number is for an adult, a child aged under 16 years, or a non-individual entity.

Information on how to apply for an IRD number is on the IRD website.  


What is a tax code, and how do I know what mine is?

Your tax code determines how much tax you have to pay. If you are an employee, it determines how much is to be deducted from your income via the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) system.

What your tax code is will depend on: how many sources of income you have; whether you have a student loan; whether you are a New Zealand tax resident (and if you are, how much you earn); and whether you’re on an income-tested benefit. 

If you need to find out what the tax code for your situation is, you should visit the IRD webpage on tax codes.


What are my responsibilities when paying taxes?

The Inland Revenue Department calculates how much tax you owe, but it is your responsibility to:
  • determine your tax code (and, if you are an employee, make sure your employer has it)
  • keep tax information, balances and records for seven years
  • give information to the IRD when required
  • if you earn income other than through wages, salary or benefit, you are responsible for:
    • paying tax on time
    • filing tax returns 
    • if you are GST registered
      • filing GST returns
      • deducting GST from payments or receipts as appropriate

More about employees and tax is on our Employment and tax page.

Employers and self-employed are responsible for all of the tasks listed above. More information about an employer’s tax obligations is on the IRD website.  Even if you engage a tax accountant to do your tax returns they will require you to keep accurate financial records.


Do I need to file a tax return?

If the only income you earn is from wages, salary, a benefit or interest, then the income tax is automatically deducted, so you won't need to file tax returns. If you earn other types of income (e.g. from rent or self-employment) then you may need to file an IR3 tax return.

The Inland Revenue Department has an online tool you can use to work out whether you need to complete IR3 tax returns. There are different calculators for the current and previous financial year – just select the one which applies.


Can I pay my tax bill online?

You can pay your tax electronically by credit or debit card or via Internet banking. You can also pay child support and KiwiSaver contributions (if you are self-employed) in these ways.

More information about making payments to the IRD is on their website.

You can also perform a range of other tax-related tasks online.
 
To do something which requires extra security, e.g. view your tax details, you’ll need to be registered for the myIR Secure Online Services. You will need your IRD number to do this. Once you are registered, you’ll be able to view details about your account, file tax returns, update your family details for Working for Families payments, and more.

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How can I check how much I have been taxed?

There are a variety of different reasons why you might want to check up on how much you have been taxed. For example, you may be concerned that your employer has used the wrong tax code for your wages or salary, or you suspect that you've paid too much tax on a contract job.

The easy way to check what you are being taxed is to request a personal tax summary (PTS). A PTS tells you how much you earned (if you are a salary or wage earner) and how much tax was deducted during a particular tax year. It tells you whether you have paid the right amount of tax during that year.

Some tax payers receive a PTS automatically, otherwise you need to request one. You can request a personal tax summary for any of the previous five years. You can do this online via myIR (see the previous question). If your personal tax summary is correct, then you can confirm this with the IRD.

If your PTS shows that you owe tax of more than $20, you will be required to pay it. So it’s a good idea to use the Personal Tax Summary online calculator first (there's a different one for each tax year), to tell you whether you are due a refund or have tax to pay. If you are due a refund, you can go ahead and request a PTS (and once you’ve received your PTS and confirmed it is correct, your refund will be credited to your bank account).


I don't think I'm going to be able to pay my tax bill before the due date. What can I do if I can't afford to pay my tax?

If you don't think that you'll be able to pay your tax bill by the due date, you should speak with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to make some arrangement as soon as possible. Call 0800 227 771 (or 0800 377 771 if you are in business or have a student loan). Late payments can cost you in extra fees, interest and late payment penalty charges.

You can propose to pay in instalments, or the IRD may decide to write off a proportion of what you owe if they think that full payment would cause you serious hardship. There’s more information in their information sheet, Debt Options.
 
You can also approach your local Citizens Advice Bureau for friendly advice and help finding a budget advisory service.

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I just received my tax assessment from the IRD and I don't think it's correct. What do I do?

If you file a tax return, the IRD will assess it and either confirm that it is correct or make amendments. This is done in the form of a Notice of Assessment, which will show whether you have a tax refund or tax to pay.

If you think it is incorrect due to an error in your tax return or an error in the IRD’s assessment, you may be able to get IRD to amend the assessment. You’ll need to contact them and tell them: which tax year it applies to; the amount involved and what the amended figures should be; the type of error; and why the change is need. See the Inland Revenue's guide IR280 for correcting errors on your return. 

If the IRD does not agree that there has been an error, you can use the IRD’s disputes resolution process. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you with the initial step, but it is a good idea to get assistance from an accountant or other professional tax advisor if you wish to proceed:
  1. To start the disputes process this you’ll need to submit a Notice of Proposed Adjustment (NOPA) to the IRD. You need to do this within four months of the date on the Notice of Assessment. It should include the tax adjustments you think are necessary, a statement explaining the grounds for your proposed adjustments (the law which applies and how it applies to you), and relevant evidence to support your case.
  2. When the IRD receives your NOPA, they will either accept your adjustments and sent you an amended assessment, or send you a Notice of Response which explains why they reject your proposed adjustments. If they send you a Notice of Response, it will be within two months of the date you sent your NOPA.
  3. If you receive a Notice of Response rejecting your proposed adjustments, you can either accept it or write back to them - you have two months to do this.
  4. If you do reject their Notice of Response, they will arrange for a mediation conference with you. After the conference, either:
    • both parties will reach an agreement and the IRD will send you an amended assessment, or
    • the IRD will send you a Disclosure Notice, asking you to write a statement of position within two months
  5. If you send a statement of position to the IRD, they will send you a statement of position within two months of receiving yours.
  6. If no agreement has been reached, the matter will go to the IRD’s Adjudication Unit. The adjudicator will make a decision and send written copies of it to both parties. 
  7. If you disagree with the adjudicator’s decision, you have two months to go to the Taxation Review Authority or the High Court.

If you don’t take the required steps within the time frames given, it will be assumed that you have accepted the IRD’s position (with some exceptions).

More about this is on the IRD website.

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What kinds of tax credit can I make a claim for?

Tax credits are a refund of tax you have paid during the year. There are several things that you can claim tax credits for, including

Donations to charity
If you make donations of more than $5 to a charity, school, university, overseas aid fund, or religious organisation that has been approved by the IRD, you can claim up to one third of the money back.

To see if your organisation is approved, check the IRD approved 'Donee Organisations' list. To make a claim, you will need a receipt from the charity organisation and to fill out an IR526.

Note that you can’t claim tax credits on donations made through payroll giving – in this case you receive your tax credits at the time of donation.

Payroll Giving
Payroll giving allows you to donate money to an approved charity, directly from your pay. The tax credit of 33.33 cents per dollar donated, is deducted from your PAYE.


Working for Families tax credits
You can apply for these if you have dependent children under 18. The package includes four different types of tax credit:

How much you get depends on your income and is given for each dependent child under 18. 

This is available to parents who work at least 30 hours per week between them (or 20 hours if they are solo parents). It also depends on income and the number of children you have.

Available if the family income falls below $437 per week or $22,724 per year after tax, and the parents work at least 30 hours per week between the two of them (or 20 hours per week for single parents).

It’s not available if the family income includes an income-tested benefit, a parent’s allowance or a Veteran’s Pension; nor is it available if one or both parents is on leave or sick leave without pay, on strike, or locked out.

This is for people who are not taking paid parental leave, and is paid for the first eight weeks or 56 days after their baby is born. Depending on your family income and how many other dependent children you have, you may be able to get up to $150 per week for the first 56 days after your baby is born.

You can apply for any of the Working for Families tax credits using online services on the IRD webpage. For more information, see our section on Benefits.

Independent Earner Tax Credit (IETC) 
This tax credit is for people who do not receive a benefit, Working for Families tax credits or New Zealand superannuation, and are earning between $24,000 and $48,000. 

With the IETC you will receive a tax credit of $520 for a full year, or $10 per week if you are not eligible for the whole year.  The IETC decreases by 13 cents per every additional dollar over $44,000 up to $48,000. 

To apply for the IETC, you just need to fill out an IR3 tax return including the number of weeks you were eligible.  Alternatively, if you are an employee, simply fill in a tax code declaration (IR330) using the new tax codes ME or ME SL on your main source of income and give it to your employer in time for your first pay period.   For more information, see the IRD IETC page

If you'd like to know more about tax credits, you should explore the IRD tax credits webpage or call them on 0800 227 774.

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I’m going on my OE and will be based in the UK for a couple of years. What will be my tax obligations?

The IRD recommends that you do the following if you’ll be away for more than three months:
  • register for myIR (their online services), if you haven’t already
  • notify the IRD and give a contact address 
  • nominate someone you trust, to act on your behalf
  • find out what your tax residency status is (see below).
  • notify the IRD when you return.

You may still have to file tax returns while you are away. It will depend on your tax residency status and whether you’ll continue to earn New Zealand income.

Tax residency
If you’ll be away for less than 325 days out of any twelve month period (the IRD regards this as leaving permanently), then for that period you will be a New Zealand resident for tax purposes.

If you’ll be away for more than 325 days out of any twelve month period, then for that period you may be a non-resident for tax purposes. How this is determined will depend on a number of factors including whether you own property in New Zealand, have family and friends in New Zealand and intend to return regularly.

To find out your tax status in this situation you will need to complete an IR886 questionnaire and send it to the IRD. They will use this information to determine your status.

If you’ll be a New Zealand tax resident
New Zealand tax residents must pay tax on income earned overseas as well as income earned in New Zealand.

Therefore, if you will be a New Zealand tax resident while you are overseas and will be earning income (other than New Zealand interest, dividends or royalties), you will be required to file an IR3 for each tax year you are away and earning income.

If the only income you’ll be earning is New Zealand interest, dividends or royalties, you won’t have to file an IR3 because the tax on these earnings will be deducted automatically.

If you’ll be a Non-resident for tax purposes
If you will be a non-resident for tax purposes while you are overseas, you may have to file an IR3 for the tax year in which you leave New Zealand. You can contact the IRD to check whether you are required to do so. If you are required to file an IR3 for the year you leave, you can do this before you leave rather than wait until the end of the tax year.
 
If you will be earning New Zealand income (other than interest, dividends and royalties – e.g. through renting out your New Zealand home) after the end of the tax year in which you leave New Zealand, you will be required to file an IR3NR for each tax year that you are away and earning New Zealand income. You’ll also need to advise IRD of your overseas address, the date you will leave New Zealand and how long you intend to be away.

You won’t have to declare overseas income (e.g. from working at the London pub) to the IRD. If you become a tax resident again (e.g. by returning to New Zealand permanently), you may need to file an IR3 for the tax year in which you return, including any overseas and New Zealand income earned during this time.

For more information you can contact the Non-resident Centre.

More information about tax residency is in the IRD booklet, New Zealand tax residence guide.

Other things you may need to do
The IRD website explains some other things you’ll need to do if you:

  • receive NZ Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension
  • receive Working for Families payments
  • pay child support
  • have a student loan
  • contribute to KiwiSaver
  • have tax debt
  • have a family trust settled in New Zealand

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What is "unclaimed money" and how would I find out about it?

Unclaimed money falls into three broad groups - deposits of money, life insurance proceeds, and certain types of trade debts.

Money only becomes 'unclaimed money' after it has been held for a certain length of time. This could happen if you went overseas, for example, and had no postal address. The Inland Revenue website has a list of people and organisations for whom Inland Revenue is holding unclaimed money. 

You can also find more information on how to investigate if you are owed unclaimed monies in the Inland Revenue Tax Information Bulletin Vol.5 #7.

If you think you are owed unclaimed money, you can ask the Inland Revenue Department to investigate by sending your request, your name, address, IRD number and proof of identity (for example a copy of a birth certificate, driver's licence or passport) to

Unclaimed Money
Inland Revenue
PO Box 38222
Wellington Mail Centre
Lower Hutt 5045

Or send the documents and details by email to unclaimed.monies@ird.govt.nz