Each week, the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB's Cooking The Books podcast tackles a different money problem. Today, it's how to get your free Government cash. Hosted by Frances Cook.

Would you like free money? How about $500, and you barely have to do a thing?

This time of year is all about tax. Just the word is enough to give some people the shudders, but resist the urge. Think instead of the free money going begging, and how easy it can be to get hold of your slice of the pie.

First up is the KiwiSaver tax credit. If you told me you had an investment where I'd get a guaranteed 50 percent return, I'd think you were scamming me.


But if you save just $1042 each year, you can get $521 from the Government. You could be getting hundreds in free cash from the Government each year, and yet last year, 580,000 New Zealanders didn't.

Some people genuinely need every dollar, but let's be honest, almost all of us can spare $20 a week. That's all it takes. Set up a direct debit, and this time next year, you'll be thanking me.

It's also a good time of year to double check your tax return, and see if there's more free money waiting for you there. Why wouldn't you at least check?

I can tell you why; because it involves money, which makes many of us uneasy, and so we ignore it.

I talked to the Commission for Financial Capability's David Boyle for the latest Cooking the Books podcast, about how to get your hands on this Government cash.

He said the KiwiSaver tax credit was one of the best investment deals around, and it was frustrating to see so many people miss out on it.

"Some people may not be aware they're not making contributions, because they're on contract.

"Or they're taking a break from work, or they're not employed, or they're a student.


"But even if it's not $20 a week, $10 a week going into their KiwiSaver still means they'll get $5 from the Government."

Even if you're on a KiwiSaver contributions holiday, or you have your own workplace pension scheme, you can still make the minimum payments to get the Government tax credit.

Boyle has crunched the numbers, and there's roughly $302m of Government money going begging because people don't take advantage of the scheme.

"For a lot of younger New Zealanders, the great thing they have is time.

"The power of time, compound interest, a little bit over a long period of time."

Then there's the possibility of a chunk of cash from your tax return.


While there are companies out there that will try to convince you it's hard to do, and that you should give them a percentage of your money in exchange for them doing it for you, it's really not that hard.

Boyle even dug out a great video from the IRD, which shows exactly how easy the process is.

"Inland Revenue have got a great website, and some great info for young New Zealanders who are starting their career," Boyle said.

"Perhaps some people are forgetting, if you make donations or support a cause, then it would be worth having a look at."

For the full interview, listen to the podcast.

If you have questions about the podcast, or ideas for future episodes, I'd love to hear from you. You can find me on Facebook here, or on Twitter here.