It’s already stressful enough when adults receive income tax letters, let alone when babies start getting them as well! The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) in New Zealand has been left red-faced after letters outlining new income tax procedures were sent to infants across the country.
Talula Hodder was among mothers surprised to find their baby had been sent a letter yesterday. She explained that her seven-month-old son Theodore would soon have his income tax assessed.
“Over the next two months, we’ll be processing income tax information for salary and wage earners like you,” IRD told the baby boy.
IRD are currently overhauling their systems to automate their tax assessment procedures, which will mean refunds will be paid – and bills sent out – automatically without the earner needing to submit anything. Ms Hodder posted online expressing her surprise at her son’s work ethic.
“I cannot wait to see how much Theo earned over the tax year!” Ms Hodder joked. “I mean, especially given the fact he was still in my belly a large portion of it … little Theodore, full of surprises.”
A spokesperson for the IRD apologised for the error. “Many children from a very early age are technically income earners for tax purposes – for example those whose parents have opened Kiwisaver accounts for them, established savings or investment funds, or made them beneficiaries of a trust. And of course, new-borns are issued an IRD number when their parents register the birth. So while we address them directly in our correspondence, it is expected that parents or guardians will deal with such matters. We shouldn’t have sent any letters to children who are not income earners, technically or otherwise. That was a mistake and we’re sorry for any confusion that has caused. Rest assured that if they haven’t received any income in the last financial year, they won’t get an automatic tax assessment. In the communication they have received from us we referred to ‘salary and wage earners like you’. On reflection we could have worded that better to avoid the uncertainty it has created for some people and we’re sorry about the lack of clarity.”