IRD Takes Aim At The Modern Family And Slashes Living Allowance

nz ird take aim

Like many New Zealanders who’d heard about the new child support changes, we naively thought it was going to be fairer than it had been in the past.

Now that the assessments have been sent out, the reality and enormity of the situation has begun to sink in…

Social media has been on fire in the last week or so as parents from all walks of life around the country (and abroad) have been trying to comprehend their newly calculated amounts.

One of the biggest pain points (not the only pain point mind you) is around the new living allowance.

What once factored in new partners and their children now treats practically every non custodial parent the same – as single and living alone (unless they have additional biological children).

You no longer receive an allowance for your new partner

Back in 1992 families with two working parents weren’t very common. Today it’s more likely for both parents to be working and supporting themselves. Under the new rules there is no allowance for new partners. Ref: IRD

The key words we believe here are

Today it’s more likely for both parents to be working and supporting themselves.

Ok maybe that makes sense in some ways.. but wait a minute, why when my partner applies to get some help from Working for Families (remember she is working, and “supporting herself”) must her family income including spouse/partner be taken into account?????

What are Working for Families tax credits?

Working for Families Tax Credits (WfFTC) are payments designed to help make it easier for you to work and raise a family. They’re payments for families with dependent children aged 18 or under.


Get this – in the Working for Families entitlement calculation both partners incomes are included despite the lack of biological linkage. Why then is it not the same when calculating child support living allowance?

The partner, according to the child support division of IRD, should not be required to assist and is therefore not included in the formula. IRD have stated the partners are not legally obligated to assist and it is more likely for both parents to be working and supporting themselves.

You don’t receive an allowance for children that aren’t your own

If you have a new partner, they should be receiving child support for their child from the child’s other parent. Only the parents of the child are legally responsible to support that child. ref: IRD

What about the new partner’s kids, when they need money for the bus or for a new pair of shoes and their parent can’t buy it because they don’t receive any assistance from Working for Families? (yet would if they were not in the relationship)

We all know it’s not as simple as that. IRD should take a good hard look at the amount of child support unpaid out there (more than 2.6 billion dollars in 2013!!!). A staggering number of parents simply don’t pay child support, don’t work, evade their bills, have moved to Alaska, etc etc.

This is a family breaker.

Some of the stories we have heard include…

How is it that myself and my children are not taken into consideration on my husbands child support calculation but yet I can’t receive fs as my husbands wages are taken into account as we are a family. So ird can decide when it they look at us as a family and when they don’t. It’s a bunch of bs!!!

“My partners child support has just increased considerably with this new formula. What really upsets me is his living allowance on child support for the last 3 years has gradually increased from approx. $30K – $32K. Our circumstances have not changed however his new living allowance is approx $17K. Now the price of milk at the supermarket is still the same, the price of petrol at the pump is also the same. So how has the price of living gone down $15K. Also if they want a one size fits all approach why are the dependent kids allocated less in this new formula (as in our case).”

“I here you mate mine went up quite abit also. But the thing that got me is according to them living costs have dropped my last estimation for living allowance was $32k now it’s $17k not sure how that works as I pay around 22k on my mortgage guess me an my family don’t need food and clothing”

“I find it interesting that both parties are given a yearly living allowance of $17690 yet he lives alone and I have my daughter 100%”

“can’t work out why calculations are done before tax as no one sees that except the government and also agree about the $17k living allowance it is absolute rubbish. My husband has no problem supporting his daughter just wants it to be fair”

Plus many many more on our facebook page..

We called up IRD, and explained to them that we understood what the change was, however we wanted to know the reasoning behind it.

This is what they told us – anyone from IRD is welcome to correct us on this, if we have misinterpreted it somehow…

Reasoning behind the drop in living allowance

  • It has been done in an effort to treat all biological children as equal.
  • It is assumed that the biological parents are there to take financial care of their children.

If that is not perceived by you to be fair in your circumstances, the advice we were given from IRD is to do an admin review stating how there are others that rely on your financial support, and aim to get an increased living allowance.

We also asked why is the living cost for an adult calculated at a set rate, pretty much across the board…

Living allowance $17,687.00

Yet the child’s support amount is calculated with all manner of factors taken into account, i.e how much the parents earn, what age they are, how many other kids have the same paying parent etc.

They couldn’t give me a good explanation about that one, and again suggested that an admin review be filed.

With 166 million dollars already down the tubes and now, we imagine, tens of thousands of unhappy parents getting ready to file admin reviews we are beginning to grasp the very sorry nature of this new child support formula.

What Is The Answer

Here at Child Support NZ, we believe there could be a relatively simple solution to this particular issue in regards to the missing living allowance.

Disclaimer: This is our idea/suggestion, you are free to agree or disagree, or put forward your own thoughts on the matter.

Most of us Kiwis are pretty understandable and adaptable, but we get very upset if we feel like the system is being unfair to us, particularly if the rules do not make sense.

We can honestly say that the majority of the many parents we have spoken to are on the same page when it comes to supporting our kids – we want to of course, however the rules need to be fair and consistent.

IRD need to figure out and clearly define what a family is – that is where the substantial confusion lies.

A:) Does a ‘family’ include only biological children/parent relationships as per the current child support living allowance?


B:) Does a ‘family’ refer to those living under the same roof in a house where both incomes are counted, regardless of the biological relationship as per the current WFF tax credit entitlement?

If (A) is the answer, then the Working for Families tax credit entitlement needs to stop counting the incomes of non biological parents.

If (B) is the answer, then the living allowance on child support calculations should be reinstated, and recalculated at 2015 levels.

Let’s not let another 20 years go past before we sort this out.

If you have other ideas please share them with us!

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We encourage comments, but please remember not to insult others. We are all in this together and only by being united will we be heard.

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  1. “You no longer receive an allowance for your new partner. Back in 1992 families with two working parents weren’t very common. Today it’s more likely for both parents to be working and supporting themselves. Under the new rules there is no allowance for new partners.”
    Ref: IRD
    IRD should be asking the question:
    Does your partner work? YES or NO.
    YES then your partner gets no living allowance.
    NO then your partner gets a living allowance.
    If this changes at any point, you notify IRD, then the amount you pay changes to reflect your working or non-working partner, just like Working for Families.
    This could be changed via the Online IRD Portal just like Working for Families can be changed to reflect a new pay rise so you are paid the correct amount of tax credits, just this would affect how much Child Support you pay.
    This is the fairer way.

  2. My partner and I have 6 children between us. 3 each with my 3 living with us full time and my partner’s living with their Mum and visiting us every second weekend and one week every school holidays. I earn enough to support my 3 children and I would never want to see my partner’s children go without and we always ensured all 6 of our children are treated equally. What is going to hurt us now is that I will end up supporting myself, my 3 children, my partner and his 3 children when they visit us. His child support has doubled from $250 per week to $495 per week. My partner is on a base salary earning commission which is only paid out when the job is completed. Jobs can take between 4 months to 1 year to be completed. I know this means that every 4 months or so we get a larger salary payment which is taxed heavily (and we generally save these commission payments for big events, like birthdays, Christmas etc) but it also means that for the 4 months prior my partner is claiming commission he will be bringing in very little once this amount is deducted from his base salary. Because IRD see us as a family I am unable to claim Working for Families, from my estimation of my salary alone that would be an extra $140 per week. I do not understand why in one instance they say we are a family but for Child Support Payments they claim we are not and so myself and my 3 children are not taken into my partners Child Support Equation. Also Child Support Payments are based on Gross Pay but after tax and child support deductions the paying parent is left with a small net pay. In my opinion Child Support should not be based on what a parent earns regardless if it’s $10k or $100k. Child Support should be based on similar equations to Working for Families and/or based on how much it costs to raise children at an average rate and split equally between both parents. Generally if the parent raising their children is single and working they are entitled to more help (accessing child care costs, accommodation supplements, WFF), however because IRD see my family including my partner as a family I am unable to access any of these because both wages are taken into account. It’s like IRD are saying one thing, then contradicting themselves on another. I don’t understand their reasoning behind their equations or lack of consideration for today’s families.

  3. heres my budget for our family of four:
    income per week $792
    mortgage 302
    rates 55
    insurances 44
    power 56
    phone 18
    petrol 60
    food 170
    medicine/medical/misc 12
    current child support 61

    this adds up to $778 which leaves $14. Yet my child support has gone up $46 So now what do I do? Which one of the above things can I cut out?
    IRD figure that one out? Do I sell the house and hope I can get a rental for less than $300 bucks?

  4. Mine has doubled……… So how the f@*k do I pay the mortgage or feed my bloody kids IRD!!!!!!!? No warning just an assessment saying so. What the hell is wrong with this country.

  5. There should be a child allowance. Everyone pays the same standard cost of raising a child regardless of income. It will put the onus on the parents to have a good relationship for the sake of their child. We were thinking about going halves in braces but not after c/s goes up $4k+. Now thinking we might go into business and run it at a loss for a few years. Pay the hubby peanuts OR lets just leave the country.

  6. The new estimation is completely corrupt. It punishes the fathers even more. I’m a stepmum. The child in question is 18 in 5 months he will be 19 he is self employed in a computer business he started/created and earns $10-15k a month however he doesn’t work 30 hours a week. ( he created an app and it sells on google apps) his mothers on a benefit so she has child buy food instead of pay board. We struggle to pay the minimum amount each month as we have two kids and I’m a stay at home mum. My Hubby’s assessment has increase by $250 per month there is no way we can afford this. We are trying to get the decision reviewed. Sons mother is a ex fraudster to both ird and winz yet ird still won’t do any

  7. my first CS estimation was set at $199 per month, I have updated my dependent children and now my CS estimation is $177 per month. (1 child full time, another 3 out of 7 nights) – so I get a reduction of $22 a month for 2 dependent children, but my CS for 1 child that I have for 103 nights a year is $177. doesn’t seem right?

  8. The person who wrote this article has it spot on! You have just put into words exactly what I have been thinking since my partner got his new child support assessment. His child support bill has gone up $400 per month as my two children who live with us no longer count as dependents. Yet I cannot claim Working for Families as I have to include his income in the calculation and that puts us over the limit. If I could claim Working for Families just based on my income I would be entitled to approximately $100 per week. So basically IRD are the only winners in this …

  9. my relationship has ended because I cant pay for my 15yr old daughter ird say its because of my partners income shes not his child why should he should suffer her dad has been in and out of prison in all her 15 yrs he fills out an exemption form to get off paying so if I get a job im really wasting my time coz I get no maintenance anyway im now also bringing up a grandson on minimal because hes with family talk about getting kicked in the guts not once but twice im so over it .

  10. I would like the answers to the CS Vs WFFTC also as I have a child who lives with us full time I receive no CS from the NCP yet my husbands CS have doubled and yet I can’t claim WFFTC as his income is taken into the equation yet myself Andy daughter aren’t included in the living allowance. Also we received the letter from IRD last year about the changes to the new CS formula requesting us to advise what portion of recognised care we provided yet this information is missing from our new assessment and when we phoned they had they had no record of this. This is typical defunct IRD!!!!

    The department needs to provide a more balanced way of working i.e CS Vs WFFTC and to be able to manage their administration of information provided to them grrrr!!!

  11. I now have to pay $900 a month for two girls that live with their mother now, I had them full time for 7 years and never got a cent in child support,we have 6 more at home and as three are my step children they are not included in the assessment for child support, my wife gets $53 dollars a month for her three from her ex who is working and getting the benefit also. I have provided for all these children for the last nine years now ird are telling me they dont recognise 3 as my dependants, this is wrong and they are double dipping.

  12. My partner pays his child support and until this year i have never complained because i slways believed that it was in the best interest of his child. These new calculations are so wrong its almost comical. His partner is on a benifit we are paying the maximum amount because of her situation. We never said no when extras were needed for his child even though we were paying child support we pay for extra clothes shoes school fees but all of these extras are now not something we can do and now its the child he pays child support for that will go without. And tgat $17,000 living allowance is absolutely ridiculous he isnt on a benifit why should he work hard to provide but be limited in the living allowance less than wat his ex recieves. We dont mind paying child support it is a nessasary evil i do mind being forced to pay more than our fair share and i do mind getting conflicting information

  13. I have payed child support for the last 14 years for my 2 children from a previous relationship. Almost 5 years ago my wife & I got full guardianship of our granddaughter (wifes daughters 1st child). 2 years later same with her 2nd. Now according to IRD my wife & I cannot claim our grandaughters against the child support we pay as IRD said they are not biological ( we didnt give birth to ) children so not classed as dependants. Altho parents dont pay anything towards raising girls. I have never denied having to pay my child support but would like a level playing feild aswell. 1 reply my wife has had from IRD is that we made the choice to take in our moko’s so its our fault not theres…… yes it was our choice to save our moko’s from how they were being neglected & starved. I would do it all again too. So tell how the new system is fair IRD when people that do whats “right” get treated like s…

  14. The differing definitions of a family have been frustrating me too. If my children cannot be counted as dependants on my partner’s child support assessment then I should be able to claim working for families for them, as the assumption is that he is not supporting them. It just makes no sense to count them for one thing and not the other.

  15. Its simple one capped rate for each biological child between the ages 0-7, 7-13, 13-18. This will allow all paying parents to be equal and every child recieves the same amount.

    As for family tax credit there should two assessments one for one parent with children reguardless living alone or if living with a partner and one for parents who live together and have children together not factoring in the non biological children if any, yes this means that possibly some parents could cliam for two FTC. But to be set to a max amount you can cliam. Just like we do now.

    As for the child support this mite help with people being more cautious about how many children they want to pay for if the relationship doesn’t work out. Also help control those who just have babies to stay on the DPB. Also with the DPB you shouldn’t be allowed to cliam for any more than 5 kids with the same parents or 3 with mutiple parents. I’m saying parents as this is being mentioned in an equal scope on this matter.

  16. I pay child support for one child & I also support my child living with me that I get no child support for as his father is living in Vietnam . My partners child support has gone through the roof $1277 per month simply put we can not afford to live now we cannot claim WFF tax credit as apparently my partner earns to much so I have a child that is now supported by just me yet I get no help for that is now going to suffer more as we won’t be able to afford food power or any sports school fees clothes or basically anything for him I am already working 7 days a week to try & get by how is this fair in anyway my partner & myself are thinking we will have to split up to get by & for my son not to suffer . His lovely ex who sees no reason & sees CS as her wage doesn’t spend that $ on their daughter but on going to get her hair done every month & to buy herself label clothes we buy the daughter new clothes etc otherwise the mother puts her only in hand me downs & all this while she lives in her new partners house (which is worth near a million dollars) for where she pays nothing for rent power or food & she thinks it is fair that I another woman should work my ass off & loose out on spending time with my child to pay her to look pretty & sit on her ass Tell me IRD where any of this sounds fair & oh how about you get some $ from my sons father in Vietnam to pay for his child that he has never ever payed a cent towards the raising of oh thats right that would be what my new partner has been doing but yet you say he doesn’t or can’t now .

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