Research shows state far more lenient on tax evasion than welfare fraud

Tax discrepancies cost the New Zealand taxpayer around $1.2 billion a year, while welfare fraud is less than $40 million.

But research shows the former are far less likely to be jailed than the latter.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei has caused an uproar revealing that she misled Work and Income (WINZ) while receiving the DPB as a student. Ms Turei admitted she didnt tell WINZ she had flatmates because she couldn't afford to care for her daughter Piupiu on a reduced benefit.

The admission was made during the launch of the Green Party's welfare policy, 'Mending The Safety Net'. Turei has offered to pay WINZ back, but now there are calls for her to be investigated.

Jordan Williams of the Taxpayers' Union has sent her an invoice requesting payment. But how do we treat welfare fraud compared to tax evasion?

Associate Professor Dr Lisa Marriott teaches taxation at Victoria University and says New Zealand is far more lenient on tax evaders.

Her research shows the state is far more lenient on tax evasion than welfare fraud.

When it comes to investigating these crimes, while 5 percent of welfare recipients will be investigated, just 0.01 percent of taxpayers will be.

So who is held accountable? There are between 800 and 1000 criminal prosecutions a year for welfare fraud, but just 60 to 80 for tax fraud.

And when it comes to doing time, of the tax dodgers with offending around $270,000, 18 percent will go to prison - for welfare fraudsters with $70,000 of offending, 67 percent will go to jail.

The Hui