Parents who have had Family Tax Credit payments administered by Work and Income are now receiving letters from the Inland Revenue Department demanding re-payment of alleged debts arising from errors made by Work and Income.
Kirstie, a woman interviewed by Newshub (see 6.00pm TV3 News, Tuesday 26 June) has received a letter from IRD stating, “Our records show we haven’t received payment for your working for Families Tax Credits in full” and that this dates back to March 2014. IRD has told Kirstie she owes them $568.18 and she is being charged interest on this amount.
Another woman has received a letter from IRD stating she owes IRD over $7000.
“Auckland Action Against Poverty is concerned that this is a widespread issue, potentially affecting thousands of the poorest families in the country” says AAAP spokesperson, Alastair Russell.
“IRD has told Kirstie she needs to get Work and Income to sort this out. IRD is saying that the responsibility for this sits with Work and Income.”
“It is clear the error has been made by one or other, or possibly both government departments. It is completely unacceptable to demand payment of alleged debts these parents are not responsible for. Charging penalty interest on these alleged debts is punitive, causing unnecessary stress and on-going financial harm.”
“These parents already experience the harsh reality of poverty and so do their children. Callous bureaucracy and the on-going toxic culture within Work and Income are combining to worsen family poverty.”
“These alleged debts must be written off with no expectation of payments to be made by these families. Any money wrongly obtained through this process must be repaid. All families affected deserve an apology for the distress caused.”
“Work and Income and IRD must also immediately identify how this problem has occurred and ensure this is never repeated. If IRD had sent threatening letters to businesses wrongly demanding payments then there would be immediate action.”