Refinements made to Cost of Living Payment screening tests


Inland Revenue is refining the screening tests for eligibility for the Cost of Living Payments ahead of the second payment being made from 1 September.

“The Cost of Living Payment was developed to provide timely financial support for low-to-middle income New Zealanders experiencing the spike in prices right now. However some people living overseas have received the payment and there are some tweaks we can make that reduces the likelihood of that,” Revenue Minister David Parker said.

“The criteria for eligibility that were agreed by Cabinet have always been absolutely clear, and remain the same. They include that a person has to be present in New Zealand to be eligible for the payment.

“Officials have continued to develop further screening tests to ensure, where we have incomplete information, we reduce the chances the payment reaches those who don’t meet the criteria,” David Parker said.

The refinements to the screening tests relate to implementation of the payment, as opposed to the criteria for eligibility.

The extra screening will for instance cross match other data and look for where an overseas IP address has been used to log into myIR, or where a non-resident individual income tax return has been filed for the 2021-22 year.

As a result of that extra screening some people will now need to confirm they are living in New Zealand. 

“This might apply, for example, to people who have been overseas for more than six months with a student loan, or have filed a non-resident tax return,” David Parker said.

“Of course, if any of these people have been earning wages in New Zealand recently, or receiving Working for Families, they will still get the payment automatically.” 

“Requiring some people to confirm they are in New Zealand is a result of the extra screening put in place by Inland Revenue - which improves the accuracy of the data they are using.” David Parker said.

“Most New Zealanders won’t need to do anything extra to receive the second and third payments.

“If people believe they should receive a payment and don’t get one, they can contact Inland Revenue to confirm they are eligible,” David Parker said.

“We expect the changes will help ensure only those eligible get the payment. I acknowledge that they will not achieve perfection because IR’s data can never be perfect. But this is better than running an application process for two million people, which would cost more than it would save.

“Individuals still need to keep their details up to date.”

The second installment of about $116 is due to be paid from Thursday, 1 September.

Notes to editors:

Additional checks to be made on Cost of Living payment eligibility that suggest someone is out of the country will be:

  • A non-resident individual income tax return (IR3NR) for the 2021-22 tax year
  • A part-year tax return for the 2021-22 tax year, with situation “departing New Zealand”
  • A Student loan borrower with overseas-based borrower status and a Student Loan balance of greater than $20, and
  • An overseas IP address used to log into myIR (excluding a VPN)

(For each of these categories some will be eligible because they are in or have returned to New Zealand.)

Extra checks providing more certainty someone is in New Zealand will be:

  • Receiving employment income in the last two months
  • Being registered as a principal caregiver or partner for Working for Families tax credits, and
  • Logging on to myIR with a New Zealand IP address (excluding VPN)