I am nearing retirement and working part-time. I have paid off my mortgage and I am using KiwiSaver to help me save a bit extra for when I retire. Because I work part-time, I have to top up my account in June each year to get the maximum $521 Government contribution. This is a hassle for me - how much would I need to earn before I wouldn't have to worry about this top up?
Well done on making sure you get the full government top up each year. Thousands of KiwiSaver members aged between 18 and 65 are missing out, either because they are not contributing enough or not at all.
There were just under 580,000 eligible KiwiSaver members who received no contribution from the Government in their accounts in the most recent financial year.
Since 2012, KiwiSaver members have missed out on more than $800 million in member tax credits (MTC).
There may be some on contribution holidays who genuinely can't afford $20 or even $10 per week, but there are others (particularly the self-employed) who simply haven't taken the time to find out what MTC are, and how to earn them.
You don't have to contribute the full $1042 per year to earn MTC either - every dollar you contribute up to that amount entitles you to 50c from the Government.
Like many people, you have probably realised that it is much easier to contribute little and often to your account than to try to make up the difference in June each year.
Many people don't have a spare $300 or $400 to drop into their KiwiSaver account, but $8 or so a week is quite manageable.
You need to earn $34,762 per annum or more to qualify for full MTC at the minimum 3 per cent contribution rate.
To be on the safe side, add up your contributions before the end of June each year (get the information from your myIR login or your KiwiSaver provider).
The total is calculated according to the day it is deducted from your wages, not the day it reaches your KiwiSaver account.
You say that you are working part-time, so you may be earning less than $34,762 per year?
If that is the case, you can increase your contribution level to 4 per cent or 8 per cent.
If someone is earning $15,000 per annum and contributing 8 per cent to KiwiSaver that adds up to $1200 per year - more than enough to get full MTC. You can also set up a weekly or monthly direct debit with your provider.
Young people become eligible for MTC when they turn 18. They may not be working, but they can still contribute to KiwiSaver (this may be an opportunity for parents and grandparents to help).
They can apply for a first home withdrawal three years after joining KiwiSaver and if they have been contributing regularly they may also qualify for a HomeStart grant.
Some may think that $521 is not a huge sum of money, but over a 47 year timespan it adds up to $24,487.
Add investment returns over that timeframe and those savings could grow to $60,000 or more. Can we as taxpayers afford this generous top up each year?
We have seen the end of the $1000 kick start, so don't assume member tax credits won't go the same way. In the meantime, do your sums and make the most of it.
- Shelley Hanna is an authorised financial adviser FSP12241. Her free disclosure statement is available on request by calling 06 870 3838 or go to www.peak.net.nz. The information in this article is general and is not personalised. Send your KiwiSaver questions to firstname.lastname@example.org