Government moves to tighten cost-of-living payment rollout to stop overseas payments

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The government has made some “adjustments” to its rollout of the cost of living payment, changes it hopes will prevent New Zealanders living abroad from receiving cash.

Revenue Minister David Parker said less than 1% of people received the first of three $116 payments by mistake in August, some of which were overseas. The money was intended to mitigate soaring costs for everyday items.

But further Inland Revenue “testing” – including confirmation that the person lives in New Zealand – would reduce the likelihood of the money going to the wrong people before the second installment on Thursday.

“We hope the changes will help ensure that only eligible people receive payment. I recognize that they will not achieve perfection because Inland Revenue data can never be perfect,” he said. “But it’s better than launching an application process for two million people, which would cost more than it would save.”

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A person must be in the country to receive payment, earn up to $70,000, and not receive a primary benefit.

Revenue Minister David Parker said the additional screening tests would reduce the likelihood of the payment going to New Zealanders living overseas.  (File photo)

WARWICK SMITH / Stuff

Revenue Minister David Parker said the additional screening tests would reduce the likelihood of the payment going to New Zealanders living overseas. (File photo)

Parker said the additional “screening tests,” including comparing other data and finding where an overseas IP address was used to log into a person’s tax account, or where a non-resident individual income tax return was filed in the past tax year.

As a result of this additional screening, some people will need to confirm that they live in New Zealand.

“This could apply, for example, to people who have been abroad for more than six months on a student loan, or who have filed a non-resident tax return,” he said.

“Of course, if any of these people have recently earned a salary in New Zealand or received Working for Families, they will still receive the payment automatically.”

If people think they are eligible but have not received payment, they should contact the Tax Department, he said.

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