A young Auckland couple who recently immigrated from Scotland have found themselves at the centre of Inland Revenue's tax system woes.
Josh Boa, 28, and Katie Bell, 27, moved to Auckland from Dundee in May but three months later have been left stretched for cash following a technical issue at the tax department which has stopped Boa from being issued an IRD number.
Boa, who works at a restaurant and brewery in Riverhead, has been working without pay for six weeks as Inland Revenue has been unable to resolve the issue with its system, which is believed to be connected to IRD's $1 billion tax system switchover conducted in April.
IRD says there is no technical issue with its system, but Boa said he had applied three times for an IRD number but the application had "failed" each time and was told this was due to an "internal IT issue".
He said IRD staff were baffled by the issue and still did not know the root of the cause.
IRD spokesman Rowan McArthur said applications for IRD numbers were currently being processed within six days and there was "no technical/system or wider issue affecting this area".
The couple have been living off Bell's salary and had to borrow money from their flatmate to cover rent and weekly expenses.
Boa told the Herald he had contacted IRD almost every day for the past six weeks to get the issue resolved but it had still not been fixed.
"The first time, they told me the application hadn't gone through properly and they weren't sure what was wrong with it apart from the application had been declined because of a 'technical fault' and 'system issue'.
"They told me to fill out an application online again ... it was a couple of days before I managed to get in touch with them again. They said it was a system fault that had been passed on to IT."
Boa said he had since filed a formal complaint and had still not had an update from IRD after a member of the complaints team contacted him last Thursday.
"A lady from the complaints team found out that it was an IT problem.
"At that point, she said [IRD] was still not sure what the issue was.
"They mentioned the system refresh but said they still weren't sure if it was because of that or another reason."
Boa, a qualified nurse who hopes to practise in New Zealand, said the situation was not only financially stressful but meant he was not able to renew his nursing registration in the UK to be able to apply for a local registration.
"I don't have any money left at the moment. I'm just very stressed."
Boa said IRD staff he had dealt with were "really confused" about the issue.
The situation had also tied the hands of Boa's employer, Bell said. "They are being forced into a kind of legal grey area as they are waiting for his IRD number so they can pay him.
"Right now he's working for nothing but tips," she said.
"They have over 6 weeks of pay, $2000 plus at this point, waiting for him but their hands are tied until the IRD sort this. What employer wants to be forced into this kind of situation with their employees?"
McArthur said IRD could not comment on individual cases but holdups in processing applications were "specific to a person's particular situation or some problem such as an applicant not providing all the information required, or the process not having been followed correctly".
"There are instances where applications are delayed as part of the normal business of sorting out specific issues of the kind mentioned.
"We do as much as we can to resolve such matters as quickly as possible."