COMMENT:

Q: I read with interest and sympathy the recent letter submitted by the folk planning to buy a home in Italy. I have a close relative who lives there and I have been there myself many times. Good luck to them — they will need it, and my cousin speaks fluent Italian!

I was planning to write and warn of the hurdles your correspondents face with the bureaucracy there, which is beyond that experienced here by a country kilometre.

Alas, I have to revise that estimate when it comes to our own civil servants. My 11-year-old granddaughter has just received a letter from IRD advising her that it owes her 4c.

I am trying to teach her about why this has happened, but this is difficult as she is far beyond her years in the maths field. Her modest bank account's interest must have been miscalculated by someone. Will she receive it as a lump sum, I wonder, or will it be credited for future tax due?

I don't suppose you can give her the necessary advice on how to deal with bureaucrats.

11-year-old Audrey Gorringe with her 4c refund. Photo / File
11-year-old Audrey Gorringe with her 4c refund. Photo / File

A: Oh, no, we're as bureaucratic as the Italians!

But perhaps we should be applauding Inland Revenue for treating children the same as adults, and respecting every refund, no matter how small. If kids were treated differently, that would open the door to all kinds of abuse of the system.

"Newborns are issued an IRD number when their parents register the birth," says an Inland Revenue spokeswoman. "While we write to a child directly, it is expected that parents or guardians will deal with their tax matters.

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"Many children from a very early age are technically income earners for

Retirement spending

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More words, please

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