Tax refunds bring relief

KELSEY WILKIE
Last updated 12:00 17/06/2014

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Many in Manawatu are finding their bank accounts are looking healthier thanks to tax refunds.

To spend, save or splurge is the key is the question this time of year.

This week the Inland Revenue Department released the 2014 tax refunds and WooHoo NZ Tax Refunds began paying out most of its customers' tax refunds.

Many of those who commented on the Manawatu Standard Facebook page said their refund would be used to pay a few bills or to buy a few "much needed items".

Hayley Leckie of Palmerston North said last year she had a good tax refund because she was on maternity leave but was still being taxed at the same rate.

Her refund went towards her wedding in December.

She said she didn't expect to get much this year but said if it was decent enough she would be happy to spend it on a weekend away.

"I just consider it a bonus and like to spend it on something nice."

Massey University accountancy lecturer Lin Mei Tan said it was interesting that people were happy to receive tax refunds after not realising that they had paid too much tax initially.

"People perhaps need to be made aware that the refund came about from their overpayment of tax and is not actually a bonus or a winning."

Estimates by NZ Tax Refunds indicate that if the entire population of Palmerston North claimed the overpaid tax that may be owing to them, about $27.5 million could be injected into the local economy.

Consumer NZ has raised concerns that more tax refund companies have sprung up because the tax take from people who don't file returns is tipped in the favour of the Inland Revenue Department.

"If it was tipped back in the favour of consumers, they would not have proliferated. Plus it's not that hard to do your own returns. We are also concerned about the fees and commitments expected of these refund companies," Consumer NZ chief executive Suzanne Chetwin said.

Massey University taxation lecturer and Labour candidate for Rangitikei, Deborah Russell, said the growth of people using agencies indicated that our tax system was getting too complicated.

"I've certainly become aware of more agencies in recent years."

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- Manawatu Standard

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