National making it harder for deadbeat parents

Photograph by Mark Mitchell via NZ Herald

Overdue child support payments will be automatically deducted from liable parents’ pay packets as part of major changes proposed by the Government.

In announcing the reforms, Revenue Minister Judith Collins revealed that debt on family support was now in the “billion of dollars”, much of it overseas, including $4 million owed by a single parent.

In a bid to claw back some of this money, the Government will change the law to allow payments to be automatically deducted from parents’ wages or salaries.

Child support payments will also be based on all income made by parents, including anything held in trusts.

There’s a bit of cock tax for you deadbeat dads out there.   But you might be surprised that owing money and paying it have been two different things.  

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) already has powers to pursue student loan debtors overseas, and Collins would not rule out extending those powers – including arrest at the border – to negligent parents.

“Most people who need to pay child support pay it directly to the parent … and most people sort things out themselves,” she said at a press conference at Parliament this afternoon.

“But there are some people who over the years have decided to scoot off to other countries to escape their responsibilities.”

And now, something you only get to see once every blue moon:  the softer side of Judith Collins.

Much of the child support debt was the result of penalties on late payment, rather than actual child support payments. As a result, Collins said the penalties will be scrapped because they appeared to deter rather than encourage people to pay off their debt.

Just pay for your children while they are growing up.  The penalties are meant to be a stick, but in the end the kids getting nothing at all isn’t a win.

So instead, taking it directly from bank accounts, digging through trusts and being stopped from entering or leaving New Zealand will be much more effective deterrents.

Collins said the Government already had some arrangements with the Australian Government to collect the child support debt owed by people there.

Asked whether powers to arrest student loan borrowers at the border could be extended to parents owing child support money, Collins said people could propose such a move as part of the consultation process.

“It may be one of the very good suggestions that someone might like to make,” she said.

Yes.  Please.


– Isaac Davison, NZ Herald

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