Firm Journal

Understanding KiwiSaver for employers and employees

KiwiSaver is New Zealand’s approach to a taxpayer-subsidised, personal retirement savings regime. Under the scheme, employers make payroll deductions for each employee through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax system. Employees are required to save these to a KiwiSaver account. Here are some of the key features of KiwiSaver that employers and employees should be aware of.

Eligibility:
KiwiSaver is eligible for anyone under the age 65 who is a New Zealand citizen. While people over age 65 cannot join, they can remain as members if they have joined before turning 65. They are also eligible if they are entitled to live in New Zealand indefinitely, and are normally living in New Zealand at the time they join.

Employee contributions:
Employees who are members of KiwiSaver must contribute a minimum of 3% of their gross taxable pay. Individuals can choose to increase the amount to 4%, 6%, 8% or 10%, but can reduce it back to the minimum amount of 3% at any time. Gross taxable pay includes all bonuses, holiday pay and overtime pay. It does not include things such as redundancy pay, accommodation benefits, taxable overseas living or accommodation allowances.

Employer contributions:
While employees must contribute to their own KiwiSaver savings, it is also compulsory for their employers to put money in. These KiwiSaver deductions must be at the default rate of 3% of their pay. However, an employer is not required to make compulsory contributions to an employee’s KiwiSaver if they are already paying into another registered eligible superannuation scheme, the employee is under 18 years or if they are over 65 years.

Posted on 15 July '19, under super.

What to know about the IRD’s new automatic tax assessments

From 20 May 2019, Inland Revenue has begun to automatically assess the 2019 tax position for over 380,000 tax-paying individuals. These assessments are a part of the IRD’s business transformation program, which aims to modernise and streamline the process of New Zealand’s tax system.

These new assessments will finalise the end-of-year information for the annual tax year ending 31 March 2019. Individuals that are affected will be those that have a reportable income only, such as salary or wages, interests or dividends, and NZ super. The end-of-year assessment uses employer and bank information to show you how much you’ve earned and how much tax you’ve paid, as well as providing you with a tax calculation. Individuals with a myIR account will be notified when their tax assessment is ready to view.

Upon receiving an automatic tax assessment, you should check it immediately as the IRD will need to be informed of any discrepancies or income that is not shown in the assessment. You will have until your terminal tax date to do this, which is 7 February 2020, or 7 April 2020 if you are using a tax agent.

No further action is needed for tax assessments that are correct, as the IRD will automatically pay any refund directly into your bank account within 48 hours of the assessment completion. In cases where tax is owed, Inland Revenue will confirm the amount that is owed and the due date. There will be a range of payment options available to individuals, including payment plans.

In cases where you have other sources of income, do your own tax return, or are self-employed, then you should not receive an automatic assessment and will still need to file your own income tax return. Consulting a tax advisor for further assistance may be helpful in these circumstances.

Posted on 8 July '19, under tax.

Why you should check your KiwiSaver tax rate

Inland Revenue has identified that 450,000 people have been paying the wrong rate of tax on their KiwiSaver accounts and other managed funds. This highlights the importance of understanding what rate of tax you should be paying on your KiwiSaver, and to check that you are paying the correct amount.

The implementation of a new automated tax system has allowed the IRD to detect more clearly what rate of tax that people should be paying on their KiwiSaver accounts and other investment savings. The IRD will be contacting those who have been paying the incorrect prescribed investor rate (PIR) on managed funds like KiwiSaver.

The PIR determines how much tax you pay on your portfolio investment entities (PIEs). Members and their employers both make contributions to KiwiSaver, before the fund manager then invests those both locally and overseas. Any returns are then taxed by the IRD. The prescribed guideline rates are 10.5% for those earning a taxable income of below $14,000, 17.5% for those earning between $14,000 and $48,000, and 28% for those earning over $48,000.

To avoid paying the wrong tax rate, members should work out their estimated income, which will then tell you what your PIR rate is likely to be. You may consider contacting your fund manager to further check the details of what tax rate you are paying and to inform them of your correct PIR, as your income earned from a fund may be taxed at the default rate of 28% without your knowledge.

For further information on taxable income, PIRs and to determine your correct PIR, you should consult your professional tax advisor.

Posted on 18 June '19, under super.

What businesses need to know about the new R&D Tax Incentive

The Taxation (Research and Development Tax Credits) Act 2019 has received the Royal Assent, and was passed into law on 7 May 2019. The R&D Tax Incentive will apply to eligible R&D activities conducted by businesses from the 2019/20 income year. Here is what eligible businesses need to know about the recent legislation.

The aim of the tax incentive is to raise New Zealand’s expenditure on research and development to 2% of GDP over the next 10 years. This is in the hope that it will create a more productive and sustainable economy. However, in order to reach this target, more businesses will need to increase their expenditure on R&D. The main features of the incentive are:

  • A credit rate of 15% applied against income tax liability.
  • A minimum expenditure threshold of $50,000 per year, with a $120 million cap.
  • Limited form of refunds for the first year of the scheme that is similar to the R&D tax-loss cash-out scheme run by IRD.

Core R&D activities are defined as having a material purpose of creating new knowledge or new and improved processes, or to resolve technological or scientific uncertainty.

For most businesses, expenditure on eligible R&D activities that are undertaken from 1 April 2019 will qualify for the tax incentive. These businesses will be eligible to transition into the new regime at the start of their 2019-20 income year and should start recording their R&D expenditure now to ensure that their records are ready to file.

Posted on 11 June '19, under tax.

Take advantage of government contribution to your KiwiSaver

To help you add savings into your KiwiSaver account, the Government will make an annual contribution of up to $521 to all contributing members over the age of 18. Over a KiwiSaver member’s working life, the government contribution could be worth as much as $36,000.

Check your eligibility:
The Government contribution stops when a member reaches the age of eligibility for NZ Super or has been a member for 5 years. If you’re an employee who earns at least $34,762 a year (before tax) and you contribute the minimum 3% into KiwiSaver, then your contributions will be at least $1043, the amount required to receive the full payment from the government. In this case, the full amount of $521 will automatically be paid into your account by late July or August.

See if you’ve contributed the correct amount:
Contractors, freelancers, part-time workers or those who earn less than $34,762 a year, will need to check how much has been contributed to their KiwiSaver account in the past year. There is still time to top your account to receive the full government contribution if you find that you come up short.

Top-up your KiwiSaver by mid-June:
The official deadline to top-up your KiwiSaver account is 30 June. However, many providers will prefer members to have a minimum amount of $1043 in their account by mid-June in order to process the government contribution efficiently. You could consider making arrangements to top-up your account either by automatic payments or a lump sum, as the government will match each dollar with 50 cents.

Posted on 20 May '19, under super.

Calculating your provisional tax

For business owners or those who are self-employed, your income tax is paid in several instalments instead of a lump sum at the end of the year. This is referred to as provisional tax.

Provisional tax must be paid for individuals who owed more than $2,500 of tax at the end of the year for their previous return. It is then payable in the following year after the individual tax return has been completed. The income that provisional taxpayers often earn includes self-employed income, rental income, overseas income, or income earned as a contractor or from a partnership.

Provisional tax payments are based on your business profits during a certain payment period. There are a number of ways to work out provisional tax. These include:

Standard option:
Calculated by either last year’s residual income tax + 5%, or your residual income from two years ago + 10%, the standard method is useful if your income is steady or will increase over the next year.

Estimation option:
When you know that your income will decrease over the next year, the estimation method is used. Add up all the taxable income that you expect to receive in the next year, then work out the tax on this amount and deduct any PAYE and other income tax credits you would be entitled to.

Using each of these methods to calculate provisional tax is followed by filing your return and commence making provisional payments through myIR.

Posted on 10 May '19, under tax.

Secondary tax changes

The Taxation (Annual Rates for 2018-19, Modernising Tax Administration, and Remedial Matters) Bill passed its third reading on 13 March and will now come into effect on 1 April. The bill amends incorrect secondary tax codes, relieving workers with more than one job who have previously been paying too much tax annually.

The IRD will now be looking closer at tax paid by wage and salary earning individuals throughout the year to ensure proper PAYE tax codes are applied. The legislation will now enable automatic tax refunds for about 750,000 people per year. This bill also removes the need for people who solely earn employment or investment income to file a personal tax summary (PTS) to get a tax refund.

Other changes included in the bill further relate to the IRD and updating the tax system as a whole. Some of these changes are:

  • New KiwiSaver contribution rates of 6% and 10%, making the savings scheme accessible to people over 65.
  • Depreciation roll-over relief for properties affected by the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 extended until 2024.
  • Clarifications of how the IRD can collect, use and disclose taxpayer information.
  • Introduction of a ‘short process ruling’, meaning small businesses can easily apply for a binding ruling from the IRD on any tax matters.
  • Confirms the annual rates of income tax for the 2018/19 tax year remain the same as previous years.

Posted on 25 March '19, under tax.

Succession planning for small businesses

Retirement is a big commitment and even more so for those who are self-employed or run their own business. All the factors that go into the decision to retire are magnified with a business to consider. Selling or closing are not the only paths if you choose to move on, this is why succession planning for your business is a great start for you to see where you want to go. For business owners, planning for your business’s future can be the key to its survival after you leave.

With the succession planning process, you will need to set ultimate goals, such as what you want to happen to your business, if you still want a role and what would it be, who should run the business in the future and when you want to leave. To make the best plan for you and your company, know all your assets and liabilities. This will help to value your business so you can calculate shares or a sale price. Having a timeframe and early planning will make it easier to leave comfortably when the time comes. Professional advice at various stages of your planning and exit will greatly help with your strategies as well as documenting your plans, having key decisions written down for advisors or successors to easily access.

Everyone’s retirement needs are different, with no official retirement age in New Zealand, super can start being collected from age 65 in conjunction with you continuing to work part-time or having a smaller role in your business. If moving on completely isn’t for you just yet, you could decide to keep a stake or shareholding to give you an income in retirement. Alternatively, you may decide to still offer advice in a director or consultant role. If this is the case, you and your successor will need to have a discussion about how this process will work. Whatever option you want to go with, seeking professional advice will help you make informed decisions.

Posted on 8 March '19, under super.

Payday filing

Payday filing is a new method of submitting and processing employment information to the IRD, meaning you will have to file more information and more frequently. This process will be implemented on 1 April. This system allows software providers to send employment information and changes to employees’ details to the IRD each pay cycle instead of monthly. The due dates for employer deductions filing and payment remains the same as the 20th of each month or if you file twice a month, the 5th and 20th. There are three ways to file online:

  • Direct from payroll software.
  • File upload to myIR.
  • Onscreen in myIR (if you have smaller pay runs).

With this new system, employers will need to file the pay details of employees and other relevant employment information every payday. It is also required to produce new and departing employees’ address information, contact details, etc. You will need to ensure your employees are aware that the information is now requested from the IRD. Filing will now be done electronically, from payday compatible software or through myIR, if your annual PAYE/ESCT is $50 000 or more.

Payday Filling is very straightforward, there are two methods to using the system. Employers can use myIR by going through the payroll returns account through file upload, where payday filing compatible software is required, or online data entry. Alternatively, you can go directly from your payday filing compatible software. With this option, employers will file directly from their software. It should be noted that paper filers can’t shift to Payday Filing before April 2019.

Posted on 1 March '19, under tax.

KiwiSaver benefits

A KiwiSaver account is a great resource for compiling and saving for your retirement and future security. It is a voluntary, government-run initiative designed to help you financially plan ahead, but what exactly are the benefits? Here are a few ways having a KiwiSaver account would aid you throughout your life.

Member Tax Credit:
This credit depends on how much you deposit into your account each year. The government will pay 50 cents to every dollar up until you’ve reached the maximum government payment of $521.43.The government will help you save by making an annual contribution to your account as long as you fit their guidelines.

  • You are 18 years or older
  • Mainly reside in New Zealand (exceptions for government employees serving overseas, regulated volunteer work or meets requirements under the Student Loan Scheme Act 2011)

Compulsory employer contributions:
Provided you are a member making contributions from your pay, your employer has to put money in, equalling 3% of your pay. Since 2012, employer contributions have been liable for tax, meaning their additions may be reduced.

KiwiSaver HomeStart Grant:
Having contributed to your account for three to five years, you could be entitled to the HomeStart Grant. There are two types of grants available:

  • When purchasing an existing home, a grant can be between $3,000-5,000 based on $1,000 each year of membership
  • When building/purchasing a new home or land on which to build a home, a grant can be doubled to $2,000 each year of membership, making the maximum amount $10,000.

Whilst eligibility criteria applies, if you have owned a home before you may still qualify under certain circumstances. Housing New Zealand would be the ones to determine if you are eligible to receive funding.

Posted on 7 February '19, under super.