Q: A few years ago, my wife and I bought our first home. I hadn't been in the scheme long enough to use my KiwiSaver funds to help purchase the house so we relied only on my wife's funds. I'd like to put my KiwiSaver funds into the mortgage. Is this a possibility?

A:

As you rightly point out, dipping into your KiwiSaver funds to buy a first home can be done only once you've been a member for three years.

After this, you can use your contributions and those made by your boss, as well as any member tax credits you've earned and any investment returns to buy a home. You can take out everything except the last $1,000.

I asked Michael Raynes, head of marketing and communications at Fisher Funds, whether you can use your funds to knock back your mortgage.

"Even though you have now been a member of KiwiSaver for more than three years, unfortunately you are unable to make a first-home withdrawal because under KiwiSaver legislation you are considered to already own a property," says Raynes.

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"You do have the option of taking a contributions holiday of between three months and five years and redirecting those funds into your regular mortgage payment.

"However, if you stopped contributing from your pay your employer contributions would also stop, so it pays to bear this in mind."

The contributions holiday can be taken once you've been a KiwiSaver member for at least 12 months, by filling out a request form - online if you are registered for the IRD's My KiwiSaver service or by printing out the form at kiwisaver.govt.nz.

You needn't give a reason for wanting to take a break. The IRD will consider requests from KiwiSavers who have been enrolled for under a year if they are suffering financial hardship for reasons outside your control.

The break can be taken for anything between three months and five years, with no limit on the number you take.

You can restart contributions when you're on a contributions holiday but your employer's agreement is required if it has been less than three months since you last changed your payments.

As Raynes points out, a contributions holiday means your employer stops chipping into your KiwiSaver but you can continue to make personal voluntary contributions direct to your KiwiSaver provider.

These count towards your eligibility for a member tax credit, the money the Government puts in each year for KiwiSaver members making regular contributions.

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It matches every $1 you contribute to KiwiSaver with 50c, to a maximum payment of $521.

The member tax credit is paid every year and the calculation is based on contributions made between July 1 and June 30.

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.