Revealed: Thousands of Kiwis still need to repay cost of living payment after mistakenly receiving it

Revealed: Thousands of Kiwis still need to repay cost of living payment after mistakenly receiving it
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Thousands of Kiwis still owe the Inland Revenue hundreds of dollars after mistakenly receiving the cost of living payment last year.

The Inland Revenue sent letters out on January 19 to 80,000 people it believed had mistakenly received at least a portion of the $350 Government hand-out last year.

But the department only received 2772 repayments between then and February 4.

"We wrote to remind them they are required to repay if they received the COL payment when they weren’t entitled to it," an Inland Revenue Department spokesperson said.

A spokesperson said they couldn't comment on if they were disappointed with the response as they didn't have any expectations when the letters were sent out.

"Some of the recipients of the letters may still have been eligible for the Cost of Living Payments so Inland Revenue hasn't estimated how much we expected to be repaid," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson confirmed people won't be prosecuted as the Inland Revenue’s stance on enforcement hasn't changed.

"We have chosen not to take enforcement action against people who do not repay unless they have deliberately given false information in order to receive the payment fraudulently," the spokesperson said.

In the majority of cases, the cost of living payment was sent out automatically without people having to make a claim or provide any information to the Inland Revenue.

One person told Stuff in January they had not asked for the payment but received it and were now not in a position to refund it, given that their mortgage interest payments had since jumped by $1300 a month.

The $350 cost of living payment was first announced by the Government in last year's Budget to help with the skyrocketing prices of basic goods. It was split across three months, with eligible Kiwis receiving about $116.67 on the first business day of August, September and October.

The payment wasn't universal and was intended for those who have a net income of $70,000 or less, are aged 18 or older, don't receive a main benefit or the Winter Energy Payment, and are a New Zealand tax resident and "present here".

But the payment received criticism after it emerged it ended up going to foreigners and expats.