Bill to simplify child support passes third Parliament reading

 "This will provide certainty for parents and the 185,000 qualifying children."
"This will provide certainty for parents and the 185,000 qualifying children." Photo credit: Getty

A bill that will make the child support scheme less complicated has passed its third reading in Parliament.

Under changes to the Child Support Act, penalty rules will be simplified and there will be compulsory deductions from payments made by an employer.

A four-year time bar on the reassessment of child support will be established, as well as a wider definition of income.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary Dr Deborah Russell said the changes make the scheme as fair and simple as possible.

"The government is committed to making changes that will mean better long-term outcomes for more Kiwi children and this will provide certainty for parents and the 185,000 qualifying children," she said.

The new legislation also removes incremental penalties, which will come into effect from 1 April.

Revenue Minister David Parker said the government wanted to to encourage greater compliance and greater engagement from liable parents.

"It is clear that some of the penalties imposed for unpaid child support are actually deterring people from meeting their obligations when those penalties start mounting up," he said.

Dr Russell said the bill's aim was to prepare the child support scheme to transition to Inland Revenue's new technology platform and in doing so, further simplify the administration of the child support scheme.

"These changes give Inland Revenue more time to contact parents to explain child support requirements and contain more effective penalty rules. Increasing understanding and compliance will help prevent people from getting into difficulties.

She said the government wants to ensure that parents feel better about engaging with the scheme.

"But the bottom line is that children in the scheme are going to benefit from this new legislation," she said.