When you’re working as a backpacker in New Zealand of course you’d like to know if and how to get a tax return. In order to find out you will need to file a tax return.
The New Zealand tax year starts on the 1st of April and finishes on the 31st of March the following year. If you have been in New Zealand for more than 183 days you automatically count as a New Zealand tax resident (NOTE: this does NOT mean that you are a resident in the eyes of the law – it is simply for tax purposes!).
How much income tax you have to pay depends on your annual earnings. If your income has been below $14,000.00 your tax rate will be 10.5 percent. The next step up would be 17.5 percent for earnings between $14,001.00 and $48,000.00 – but that is rather unrealistic for most backpackers.
Any tax resident will be eligible for a tax return if he/she has worked for part of the tax year. If you chose to file a tax return you will have to complete an IR3 form. Your employer(s) will have to provide you with your income details. Mostly you will find those on your final pay slip.
You will find all the necessary information about your possible tax refund on the website of the Income Revenue Department (IRD).
Alternatively you can download the IR3 form here – http://www.ird.govt.nz/forms-guides/number/forms-001-99/ir003-form-individualreturn-2014.html
You will need your IRD (tax) number that you were issued when you first started working in New Zealand along with your bank account details and a summary of your earnings.
If you are leaving New Zealand before the end of the tax year you can file an urgent tax refund. To do so please download an IR1005 from the following website for people who are leaving New Zealand – http://www.ird.govt.nz/forms-guides/number/forms-1000-1099/ir1005-guide-leaving-nz-filing.html
We also recommend to file an IR886 tax residence questionnaire which helps IRD to determine your tax residence status and any obligations you might have. By doing so you can also nominate someone to act on your behalf should you have to leave the country before your tax return has been processed – http://www.ird.govt.nz/forms-guides/number/forms-800-899/ir886-form-nz-tax-res.html
IRD Online Service
The fastest and most convenient way to have your refund processed is by using the IRD Online Service. It saves you having to go to the IRD offices and person and you can check your earnings and your status online anywhere and anytime.
Once you have registered you will need to verify your account by calling the free call number 0800 227 770. After that most communication will either be online via email or via phone. The IRD free call hotline for any personal inquiries is 0800 227 774.