Southland parents owe $32m
More than half of southern parents paying child support have overdue payments.
Inland Revenue figures show that of 3372 parents in the Southland district, 2459 had defaulted.
A default could include anything from a one-off $5 non-payment to regular monthly defaults.
The figures provided were based on postcodes for Invercargill, Southland and Central Otago, including Queenstown and Alexandra.
The figures show that at May 31, 2014, parents in the Southland district owed $32 million in child support debt, up from $30.9m the same time last year and $27.1m the year before.
A total of 1365 liable parents had instalment arrangements in place.
Nationally, $3.1 billion is owed, up from $2.8b last year.
An IRD spokesperson said child support obligations are calculated based on the paying parent's taxable income minus a set living allowance, and multiplied by a percentage based on the number of children being paid for.
Payments are collected by the IRD and passed on to the custodial parent, or to the Government if that parent was receiving a sole parent benefit.
The department worked with liable parents who were unable to meet their obligations and recovered outstanding debts on a case-to-case basis, the spokesperson said.
Gore Salvation Army community worker Kaye Byron said she often dealt with people who had a private arrangement with their former partner, who had then stopped paying.
She urged anyone who had separated to contact the IRD.
She saw about five or six people a month in who were struggling to pay their child support on a low income
Often they were seasonal workers or people who had become unemployed who were still trying to pay the same amount, she said.
"They want to support their children but need to survive as well."
She urged people not to ignore the situation and to talk to IRD and explain their case to see if it could be re-assessed.
Jubilee Budget Advisory Service board director Simon Tierney also urged people to contact IRD to help with a suitable arrangement to avoid compounding penalties.
If you're a paying parent, there are several ways you can pay child support:
Make an electronic payment.
Have deductions made from your Work and Income benefit.
Pay in person by cash, cheque or eftpos at any Westpac branch.
Arrange for your employer to make deductions from your wages each payday.
Post regular cheques to Inland Revenue.
If the paying parent receives a benefit from Work and Income, child support payments are automatically deducted from the benefit.
Source: Inland Revenue.
- The Southland Times
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