Do you get pinged for unpaid tax year in year out? Or do you know that you’re probably owed a tax refund, but don’t know how to get it?

Either way you’re losing money. Your money. The majority of people owed a refund never claim it. For those who owe money, the Inland Revenue Department’s fines and penalties hurt.

If this is you, or your life would benefit from you being more efficient, the answer could be to use the IRD’s myIR online service. Most people access myIR on their computers. The website allows you to work out taxes, file returns, ask questions, make payments, apply for refunds and more. More than 2 million Kiwis have myIR accounts, although not all use them, and signup can be done by text, but you need to start your registration online.

There is an IR on the go service for smartphones that allows people to check Child Support payments, Working for Families payments and student loan balances and repayments. But it doesn’t cover most things that can be done on the website.

Apple users can download an app. Sadly the IRD has failed to do the same for Android users, despite the fact that Android has more than 80 percent market share according to IDC.

The Apple iOS app is fairly limited. It’s aimed at small business owners not individuals and offers the ability to file GST returns, make tax payments, update personal details and receive notifications.

The main myIR website where most people will go for information, isn’t the easiest to use. In fact it can be a total nightmare to navigate. But if you can take a little bit of time, you could well benefit financially and no-one wants to pay the IRD more than they have to. So have a go.

Here’s what you can do on myIR:

Get a refund: An awful lot of Kiwis don’t claim the refunds that are due to them. If you’ve not worked a full year, have changed employers, have expenses you can claim for the independent earner tax credit you’ve probably paid too much tax and could get a refund. You do this by requesting a personal tax summary (PTS).  Tax refund companies advertise their service on TV a lot. They take a juicy chunk out of the money you’re due. Some people think you’d be mad to share your refund with them when you can do it yourself in a few minutes on the myIR site.

Pay or check child support: If you pay or receive child support you can find out an awful lot such as due dates, any overdue amounts, and assessments.

Student loans: I pity students who need to pay back tens of thousands of dollars. But sometimes it’s best to pull your head out of the sand and get it paid off. If you ever want to live overseas you’ll have to pay interest on your balance. Paying it off now will give you more options in the future. No-one wants to be the non-payer arrested at the airport trying to leave the country. If you have a student loan you can check your account information, adjust your income, make payments or request a request a student loan account statement on myIR.

File returns: Most Kiwis who are on PAYE don’t need to fill in an annual tax return. If, however, you do need to file an IR3, IR4, or GST return, you can do it online. There are many many other IRD forms that can be filed online. Even if the form or return you need can’t be filed online, virtually every form known to the IRD can be printed from its website.

Work it out: myIR has many online calculators and tools ranging from its home based boarding calculator to its mixed use asset calculator for bach owners to make money by renting letting their property. You can access the calculators without having to log on.

My actions: One good thing about myIR is that it has a My actions section, which tells you if you need to do anything, such as file a return by a certain date. It’s a good idea to log on from time to time and check My actions..

Secure messages: If you need information from the IRD and want to avoid the painful automated telephone system, then you can send a message via the secure mail system. The advantage of this is that you have all of your communication with the IRD in one accessible place.

Email alerts: If you’d rather eat cockroaches than spend your time chasing information on myIR, or you’re terrified by the spectre of IRD penalties, then the alert service can be useful. It will send you emails about your KiwiSaver account and GST returns. Alerts for income tax and Working for Families Tax Credits are sent automatically.

Finally, filing tax returns and paying can be as traumatic as having teeth pulled. But the penalties and interest mount up quickly and you don’t want to pay them. If you’ve underpaid tax you’re charged 9.21% per annum currently on the money that’s outstanding to encourage you to pay up fast. These extra charges add to the pain of paying, which you’ll have to do eventually. Find out more about penalties and interest here.




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