Three weeks left for 'free money' in Kiwisaver

KiwiSaver members have only three weeks left to take advantage of "free money", but many are not even aware the offer exists.

For every dollar a member puts into their KiwiSaver account, the Government puts in 50 cents, up to a maximum of $521.43 each year.

Members have until June 30 to increase their annual KiwiSaver contribution to $1042.86, the amount required to receive the maximum tax credit for this financial year.

But many New Zealanders do not know enough about the member tax credit (MTC) to get the most out of it.
Recent AMP research found only 41 per cent of working Kiwis are aware the credit is available to them each year.

Also, 68 per cent are unaware of how much they need to contribute in order to receive their full MTC payment. "There aren't many opportunities in life to get free money, so we think those saving for retirement should do their best to try and get as much of their $521 MTC from the Government as possible," AMP's chief customer officer Jeff Ruscoe said.

MTC contributions could add up significantly and make a big difference over a lifetime of saving, he said.
"Even if you are unable to top up the entire amount this year, the Government will still contribute 50 cents for every dollar paid to your KiwiSaver account," Ruscoe said.

"We just recommend people make a goal for next year to increase contributions to reach the $1042.86 threshold." Inland Revenue statistics show $494 million has been paid out so far this financial year in member tax credits, with the vast majority paid last July.

This equates to about 950,000 members getting the full tax credit, showing that most of the 2.3 million members are either not getting the full benefit or missing out entirely.

Research by managed fund industry group the Financial Services Council found a small group of savvy KiwiSaver investors were putting in just enough each year to get the maximum tax credit.

These investors, who made up about 8 per cent of the KiwiSaver population, tended to be men aged over 55 who were degree-qualified and owned a rental property.

But Financial adviser Liz Koh of Moneymax said many people were still "very ignorant" about KiwiSaver, which launched in 2007.

"People aren't really paying a lot of attention," she said.

"A standard question when I see new people is what provider they are with and nine out of 10 have no idea."
The tax credit was just one of a number of aspects of the scheme people did not understand, Koh said.

"A lot of people aren't aware they can contribute directly; housewives, unemployed people and the self-employed as opposed to PAYE," she said.

"I encourage people to do $87 a month rather than one lump sum a year. If you're relying on remembering every June the chances are you'll forget about it."