Working holidays and tax 

I’m in New Zealand on a working holiday. What are my tax obligations while I am here and when I leave?

While you are in New Zealand you’ll need an IRD number.

Applying for an IRD number as a non-resident
As you are a non-resident, this will involve the extra step of setting up a bank account in New Zealand before you can apply for the IRD number.  Inland Revenue will ask you to provide proof that your account is fully functioning i.e. you can deposit money into and withdraw money from the account; and the account meets New Zealand’s anti-money-laundering laws – your bank can provide you with this proof if you ask for it.

When you complete the IRD number application form for non-resident individuals you’ll see a checklist which lists the documentation required with your application.

You can read more about your tax obligations in New Zealand on our Personal income tax page.

Once you start your job you’ll also need to work out what your tax code is, to ensure the income you earn is taxed at the correct rate.

Before you leave New Zealand
When it gets close to the date of your departure, contact Inland Revenue so that they can update their records with your details (e.g. the date of your departure) and tell you whether you have any further tax obligations.

Inland Revenue may require you to file an IR3 for the current tax year. They prefer you to do this before you go, but may allow you to file your IR3 after you leave the country – as long as it is filed by the due date. If you don’t have to file an IR3, you can choose to file one anyway (for example because you think you have a tax refund due).

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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?

Inland Revenue recommends that you do the following if you’ll be away for more than three months:
  • register for myIR (their secure online service), if you haven’t done so already
  • notify Inland Revenue 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 Inland Revenue when you return.

The Inland Revenue 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

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. To find out your tax status you will need to complete an IR886 questionnaire and send it to Inland Revenue. They will use this information to determine your status.

If you’re considered 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’re considered 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 Inland Revenue 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 Inland Revenue 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 that London pub) to Inland Revenue. 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, and declare any overseas and New Zealand income earned during this time.

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

Inland Revenue
Non-resident Centre
PO Box 39010
Wellington Mail Centre
Lower Hutt 5045
New Zealand

Phone: 64 3 951 2020 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm) 

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

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I have to file an early tax return before I leave New Zealand. Why can’t I do it online?

The tax year is 1 April through to 31 March of the following year, and the online tax return form for the current tax year is not available until the end of the tax year. This means that if you need to file a tax return before the end of the tax year (i.e. an “early” tax return), you won’t be able to do so online.

You’ll need to download and print a copy of the latest IR3 form (or call Inland Revenue to have a form mailed to you), cross out the year that is on the printed form and handwrite the correct year above it.

Send the completed form to Inland Revenue (the address is on the form), along with copies of your passport and income details.

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I am leaving the country part way through the tax year. How can I claim my tax refund?

The easiest way to claim a tax refund is by requesting a Personal Tax Summary (PTS), however a PTS can only be issued for a full tax year and after the end of the tax year (around June or July).

So if you are leaving New Zealand before the end of the current tax year and you want to claim a tax refund, you can either:

  • file an IR3 tax return before you leave the country, or
  • wait until June/July after end of the tax year and go online to request your PTS (if you have a myIR login).

Be aware that if you file an IR3 there is a possibility it will work out that you will actually need to pay tax.