Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

KiwiSaver: You don't need to work to contribute and get benefits

Don't let the 'work-based' bit throw you though - any New Zealand resident under 65 is able to join KiwiSaver.
Don't let the 'work-based' bit throw you though - any New Zealand resident under 65 is able to join KiwiSaver.

I am 59, on the super (because of my husband's age) and means-tested.

We do have a small additional income through a company we own.

From what I understand anyone can join until they are 65?

They have to put in at least $20 a week, at least $1043 a year, which can also be done by lump sum?

Does the year start when you join?

Is there any disadvantage?

It is like a saving scheme isn't it?

No doubt if anything happened to my husband before I turn 65 (heaven forbid) I may be forced into employment and then I would have to contribute some of my meagre wages.

KiwiSaver is described on the website as a "voluntary, work-based savings initiative".

Don't let the "work-based" bit throw you though - any New Zealand resident under 65 is able to join KiwiSaver.

This means that stay-at-home parents, beneficiaries, early retirees and even children can join.

While salary and wage earners will have KiwiSaver contributions come straight out of their pay packet, everyone else will need to make arrangements to pay their contributions directly to their KiwiSaver provider.

ANZ Wealth managing director John Body explains further: "KiwiSaver is a retirement savings scheme with a special set of rules and benefits that are different to other savings schemes.

"If you are making your own contributions and you want to gain the maximum annual government contribution (also known as member tax credits) of $521 then you need to put in $1043 a year.

"This particular year runs from July 1 to June 30 and you must be a member for a full year to be eligible for the maximum.

"You can make your payments in regular weekly amounts or lump sums.

"You are entitled to receive the government's annual contributions until you become eligible to withdraw your savings.

"This is when you are 65 and have been in the scheme for five years.

"You could join KiwiSaver at 64, and so the minimum five-year period before you can withdraw your money means you could still get member tax credits until you reach 69.

"If you have joined KiwiSaver and then you start working, then your employer is required to deduct minimum contributions at the rate of 3 per cent from your salary, and the employer is also obliged to contribute 3 per cent of your salary.

"If circumstances change and members feel they cannot make the minimum contributions, then they are able to apply for a contributions holiday after being in KiwiSaver for 12 months."

If you were wondering how someone under 65 could get New Zealand Super and why it is income tested then here's why: the Ministry of Social Development said there are a range of circumstances when New Zealand Superannuation may be income tested.

Generally it's when someone wants to include a non-qualifying spouse or partner on their superannuation.

Any income either of you earn while doing this could affect how much New Zealand Superannuation you each get.

That additional income could also affect the tax you pay. More information is available on the seniors section of the Ministry of Social Development website:

•Disclaimer: Information provided is stated accurately to the best of the respondent's knowledge at the time of publication. It is general in nature and should not be construed, or relied on, as a recommendation to invest in a particular financial product or class of financial product. Readers should seek independent financial advice specific to their situation before making an investment decision.

To have your KiwiSaver questions answered by the Herald's panel of industry players email Helen Twose,

- NZ Herald

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Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Helen Twose is a freelance business journalist who writes regularly about KiwiSaver and entrepreneurial companies. She has written for the Business Herald since 2006, covering the telecommunications sector, but has more recently focused on personal finance and profiling successful businesses.

Read more by Helen Twose

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