My partner is self-employed and joined Kiwisaver over three years ago.
She hasn't made any payments into the scheme, with only the Government's initial injection sitting there.
Is she able to calculate what payments she should have made since joining, deposit that sum into the Kiwisaver account and then be eligible for the First Home Buyer benefits/assistance?
One of the beauties of KiwiSaver is that for those earning a wage the contributions are whipped out before your pay hits your bank account.
Once you've made a decision about your provider, the type of fund you want to be in and the contributions rate - 3 per cent, 4 per cent or 8 per cent of your before-tax pay - the transfers from your employer to the IRD and then on to your provider all happen without you needing to lift a finger.
For the self-employed, contractors, beneficiaries or those not working the process is a little less automatic.
Because you don't have an employer arranging KiwiSaver payments with the IRD and chipping in its 3 per cent you need to deal direct with your provider.
The decision about how much to contribute each year is generally up to you unless your provider has some rules around voluntary contributions from non-wage earners.
Generally speaking if you want to get the most benefit out of KiwiSaver you'd aim to put in $1042 a year in order to get the $521 member tax credit from the Government.
This works out at contributions of roughly $20 a week or $87 a month.
Or you could, as your partner has done, choose not to contribute at all.
As well as missing out on around $1563 in free money from the Government over the three years she's been signed up to KiwiSaver, from April next year it looks likely member tax credits will be available to put towards a house deposit.
Currently, you can only take out your contributions and those of your employer, plus any investment earnings, to put towards a deposit.
The $1000 kick-start can't be withdrawn for a house deposit.
The deposit subsidy, which is different from the KiwiSaver funds withdrawal but can be combined with the funds withdrawal to help you into your first home, currently gives people who have regularly saved into their KiwiSaver fund for at least three years an extra $1000 for every year they've been in KiwiSaver up to a maximum of $5000.
For a couple combining their KiwiSaver deposit subsidy this could work out to be an extra $6000 to $10,000 towards their first home.
The subsidy is aimed at those on modest incomes so individuals buying a house by themselves need to be earning $80,000 or less (before tax) in the last 12 months and couples or several people clubbing together must have a combined household yearly income of $120,000 or less (before tax) in the last 12 months.
While anyone looking to buy a first home can dip into their KiwiSaver funds to help with a deposit, there are a few more hoops to jump through for the deposit subsidy.
For further details on the eligibility criteria, you can go to www.hnzc.co.nz/kiwisaver.
The first requirement of the deposit subsidy is that you have regularly contributed a minimum percentage of your income for at least three years.
That minimum amount figure has changed slightly over the years.
Since April 1, 2013 the minimum contribution has been three per cent of your income, 3 per cent of the minimum wage for non-earners or 3 per cent of your yearly benefit for beneficiaries. From July 1, 2007 to March 31, 2009 the minimum contribution was 4 per cent, and from April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2013 it was 2 per cent.
And there's bad news on that front too. A check with Housing New Zealand, which administers the KiwiSaver first-home deposit subsidy, on your question about making a lump sum payment to play catch-up on the contributions got this emphatic response: "No, unfortunately this is not possible".
"To qualify for the deposit subsidy, members need to make regular contributions to their KiwiSaver account for at least three years.
"Allowing members to make substantial voluntary lump sum payments to cover long periods of no contributions is unfair to those who regularly contribute and does not reward commitment to saving for retirement.
"Also, depending on the income earned during this period, the lump sum payment is likely to be greater than the deposit subsidy amount, therefore making the top-up payment uneconomical.
"She would be able to start making voluntary payments for the current financial year, or make a lump sum payment during the course of the year, but cannot make a backdated lump sum payment in order to try to qualify for the subsidy.
"Voluntary contribution payments have to be made in the same financial year as the income is earned.
"A self-employed member can make annual lump sum payments at the relevant percentage of their income over a three-year period to qualify for $3000.
"The key point is that the contributions must be based on the member's total income, not just the main one. Therefore, if a member has a self-employed income stream and, say, a part-time job, contributions must come from all income streams, not just the main one."
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.
Getting the most out of KiwiSaver
• Aim to put in at least $1042 a year for a $521 tax credit.
• That's roughly $20 a week or $87 a month.
Buying a house
• The deposit subsidy gives regular contributors for at least three years an extra $1000 for every year in KiwiSaver to a maximum of $5000.
• For couples this could be an extra $6000 to $10,000.
• Individuals buying a house need to be earning less than $80,000 before tax and couples or several people clubbing together must be earning $120,000 or less.
To have your KiwiSaver questions answered by the NZ Herald's panel of industry players email Helen Twose, firstname.lastname@example.org. Sorry, but Helen cannot answer all questions, correspond directly with readers, or give financial advice.