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IRD are basically useless. Not that this is news. - Tactical Ninja

Feb. 19th, 2014

10:09 am - IRD are basically useless. Not that this is news.

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Bloody hell, I got a Child Support payment. A princely sum of $35.

For those who are new here, Child Support for me has been an ongoing joke, in which (prior to this current payment) I had not received anything for nearly two years, and the total debt has crept to ~$10,000, some of which goes back to when the YoT was 13.

Periodically (about every 6 months) I check in with IRD, and they inform me that they are doing what they can, that I should let them know if I get any new information, and that they can't tell me any details about what they are doing and/or when I might expect some real action. Sometimes they tell me they've recalculated how much I should be getting paid, and I laugh a hollow laugh because the whole thing's pretty abstract when I have no expectation of actually receiving any money. It's been a bit of a saga.


In New Zealand, 19 is the age at which Child Support is no longer a requirement. By then, kids are expected to be supporting themselves* and that is the point at which my being tied to the YoT's father in any way should end.

Except that since he's not paid said Child Support, and now owes his son and me a substantial amount of money, it won't end.

IRD tells me they will chase him till they get the money on my behalf, but given the track record so far I am not reassured that this means we'll ever actually get any of it. It seems that when he was self-employed and married, they couldn't get at his money because he kept changing employers (so they couldn't get it from his wages before he received them) and any money he got went into a joint bank account (so they couldn't take it because it would affect someone else who is not liable).

Now, he's on home detention and has been for at least 6 months. From what I understand, this means he hasn't been able to work. I would assume he has been on some kind of benefit - except that when a person's on a benefit, their Child Support comes out before they get it, and I've received nothing. So maybe he is working. But he's separated from his wife and his house is supposedly being sold, and the IRD knows all this. He has assets, and must have an income. He can't run away because of the home detention.

And yet, they have only managed to extract a grand total of $35 from him since April 2012. This folks, is your tax department at work.

So I have sent my 6-monthly email, letting them know the current state of the debt (5 years old, $10,000, kid about to leave home) and asking as politely as I can bring myself to be, that they let me know how things are going at their end. It's a ridiculous farce and I know what I'll get in return is a form letter telling me that there isn't a plan in place to retrieve payments but they'll keep chasing it.

If only I believed them the way I did when they first sent me one of those letters.

$10,000 is not a small amount of money. Back when it was looking like the YoT's father might actually step up and pay his share, we agreed between us that I would keep half and the YoT would get half, from which he'd buy his clothes, pay for haircuts and the like. It was supposed to be the means by which he learned to budget as an adult. Instead, I had to supply all that, which kind of subverted the point of what I was trying to do because it put me in control of that money, not him.

And now, the deal's still the same. If this money ever comes through, he gets half and I get the other half. $5,000 would go a long way to setting him up as an adult. And I wouldn't say no to a bit of what amounts to reimbursement for covering Trevor's financial responsibility for him for 5 years. Yeah, it rankles having to do that. It'd rankle worse if I wasn't reasonably financially stable, but still - it's pretty hard not to resent being forced by default to pay someone else's share of a responsibility they really ought to step up for, especially when it's someone who's left you in the lurch in many different ways over the years, and all you want is to not give them any of your headspace.

It's even harder not to resent the organisation that is supposed to be helping you, when they a) don't seem able to actually help you and b) won't communicate in any real way with you about what they are doing on your behalf.

"I'm sorry, there's no money for you and we can't tell you what we're doing to fix this. Please sit quietly over there and wait a bit longer. Like, 5 years longer. We will update you, umm... never."

When I was paying Child Support, I never missed a payment. And by the end it was $700 a month I was paying. I worked it out, that was a fair approximation of half the cost of bringing up a teenager. I have not received the same courtesy, from his father or from the IRD. And I do resent that.


I try to be flippant, facetious and humourous about it, but the fact is, it pisses me off. I am powerless here, and that pisses me off. It would piss me off less if those who supposedly had the power to help me would actually exercise it in a meaningful way.

And I'm left with the constant question: How bad does this have to get before I get real action? Or before it becomes newsworthy? Either would be fine..

* Except for the bit where if they go to University, their eligibility for financial help is affected by the parents' income until they are 25. I don't really understand why getting an education should force a kid to be reliant on their parents for 6 years longer, but there you go.

Comments:

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From:tatjna
Date:February 18th, 2014 10:07 pm (UTC)
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I have an email exchange somewhere from around that time with Peter Dunne (my then MP) in which that gets a mention. He's since been and gone as the Minister of Revenue, and nothing's improved.

Funny, that.

But you know, I'm beyond caring about their problems, and how they never have enough money to rahdy rahdy rahdy. I just want my 10 grand. It's about time, and if it were the other way round I'd have been charged penalties and interest that would just about double the debt. In fact, they've chased me for money to pay back mistakes they made, during the time this debt has been accruing, and given me absolutely no recourse or mercy regarding the fact that I'm raising a kid on my own with no help while they achieve nothing on my behalf and won't tell me anything about what they are trying.

So yeah, no sympathy here. They should do their fucking job.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 10:34 pm (UTC)
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That's because it's shifting money from (mostly) non-rich people to (mostly) non-rich people. It's hardly the kind of redistribution most governments consider to be helpful.

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From:songindarkness
Date:February 18th, 2014 10:19 pm (UTC)
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$35 is a total joke.

My boyfriend and his siblings are in much the same boat - they haven't seen much money out of his Dad since he (my boyfriend) was 14, and he's 29 now. This is in the UK, but I guess child support agencies are equally incompetent and useless everywhere. So... good luck with hounding them! or something. :/
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From:tatjna
Date:February 18th, 2014 10:25 pm (UTC)
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$35 is half the monthly minimum rate that a liable parent is supposed to pay, even if they are on a benefit. He has a daughter for whom he is also liable, so I'm assuming that her Mum gets the other theoretical $35.
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From:inushnu
Date:February 18th, 2014 10:37 pm (UTC)
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talk about a double fail. fail system, fail father. when i hear of these types of things i want desperately to be the proverbial fly on a wall and look in at both failtards and see how they manage... who actually gets help from the system... how does he actually live life with all this bad mojo? it makes me blink in shock.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 12:51 am (UTC)
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I don't think his life is all that fun from the sounds of things. But I try not to think about him at all if I can possibly avoid it. Sadly, this business forces him into my head whenever the issue comes up. It's frustrating.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:February 18th, 2014 10:44 pm (UTC)
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On the plus side, we've been splitting living costs evenly for the last 2 years, so that's something and you're not on your own! (although I know there are other costs on top of just rent/utilities/food).

I still think it's worth deducting the outstanding amount from your income tax. You can easily transfer +ve amounts between IRD accounts when it's coming from you (e.g. move GST refund to income tax), so why not move your +ve child support balance to your income tax? Ok, it's probably not that easy, but it might be worth a shot.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 18th, 2014 10:49 pm (UTC)
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Child Support is a branch of IRD, but income tax is a completely separate department. Also, it's not IRD that owes me money, but the YoT's father.

So as far as they are concerned, my income has nothing to do with Child Support and Child Support has nothing to do with them. Thus, my income tax is not relevant to the debt owed to me in Child Support. Basically, they'd start whacking penalties on unpaid income tax and not let me offset that against the $10,000 they have failed to collect for me. Because as far as they care, that is not their debt, it's Trevor's.

You'll note how it's cunningly set up so that money can continue to be extracted from me regardless of whether or not I'm receiving Child Support. As an added bonus, they can toss up their hands and go "Sorry, it's not us that owes you money" whenever I talk about how stupid and messed up this situation is.

Thank you for your help the last couple of years. x
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From:ecosopher
Date:February 18th, 2014 10:47 pm (UTC)
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What. A. Balls. Up.

Jesus.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 18th, 2014 10:50 pm (UTC)
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MTE
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From:fbhjr
Date:February 18th, 2014 10:52 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Sorry that you have had to go through all that.
Maybe you should try contacting the media yourself.
Here in the US there are a couple of news outlets that have a way to submit stories.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 12:43 am (UTC)
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We have a couple too, but in my enquiries so far I have yet to come across a media outlet that thinks this is news.
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From:helianthas
Date:February 19th, 2014 11:39 am (UTC)
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Ask around among your friends till you find someone who is a reporter-- social, financial, or feature, maybe -- someone who can find a few similar cases and turn it into a story. </p>

I think your hook of having paid so much before is especially interesting.

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From:anna_en_route
Date:February 18th, 2014 10:56 pm (UTC)
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Your situation sucks and they should be better at this.

I think they might finally have moved off tape drives in the last 3 years so that's something...
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 12:43 am (UTC)
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I think even the other government agency that I deal with on a regular basis beat the IRD to that. IIRC they moved from floppy disks to CDs in 2008.
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From:meri_sielu
Date:February 18th, 2014 11:01 pm (UTC)
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This is such a joke, I really can't believe they're making it this difficult. I really want to hope it gets sorted soon for you but would that be asking too much? :/
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 12:42 am (UTC)
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I don't think it'd be asking too much. Dude throws his money around when he's got it, just never at his son.
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From:pythia
Date:February 18th, 2014 11:20 pm (UTC)
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"How bad does this have to get before I get real action? Or before it becomes newsworthy?"

Yeah, I'd go with about now. It's utterly ridiculous. Like you said, if it was a debt that was owed to THEM, you can bet it would be followed up religiously until it was paid in full, with interest. And if it's happened to you, I can only imagine there's a shit load of other parents in the same boat, and some of them probably genuinely *need* that money to survive. It'd disgusting, and they're clearly not going to do something about it on their own. I say enlist the media.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 12:41 am (UTC)
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So far I haven't found any media that are interested. Apparently people skipping out on their responsibility to their kids and our government being unwilling to do anything real about it is not news.
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From:pythia
Date:February 19th, 2014 08:37 am (UTC)
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Hmm. Well, it is election year, which always makes politicians at least want to *look* like they're helping. Maybe try the Greens?
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From:richaarde
Date:February 19th, 2014 12:33 am (UTC)
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Don't spend that all in one place.

Seriously, pathetic. Where I am (US/New Jersey), they have been going after deadbeat dads, with mixed success. Chronically underfunded programs, the parent runs off and moves to a different state and they can't find him/her, etc.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 12:36 am (UTC)
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Yeah, that's the stupid thing. Dude's in home detention, he can't run away, and it still seems beyond them to track him down and make him pay up.
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From:helianthas
Date:February 19th, 2014 11:42 am (UTC)
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I'm curious as to the laws behind why they aren't garnishing his benefit. I'd bet that they are actually garnishing it, but they can't take it down to 0 because then he'd have nothing to eat, and theoretically the YoT would have his own benefit if you didn't make enough $$, so maybe he's just getting the $35. Unclear but this is a detective story I think is fitting!
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From:raincitygirl
Date:February 19th, 2014 01:39 am (UTC)
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$35?

Wow. Way to go IRD. You'd think they'd be embarrassed to be sending you a cheque that small.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 01:42 am (UTC)
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They are probably proud of themeselves that they managed to extract a whole month's worth from him. I note that it was in two chunks as well - dunno why..
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From:t_c_da
Date:February 19th, 2014 03:05 am (UTC)
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Benefits are paid fortnightly, which may explain two chunks for a month...
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 10:35 pm (UTC)
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Last time I was on a benefit (admittedly years ago), they were paid weekly. I think Super is fortnightly though.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 10:37 pm (UTC)
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Apparently first they have to establish whether he has anything worth sending the bailiffs around for. And whether when they get there, the bailiffs can actually take the thing without it turning out to partly belong to someone else.

And according to the little they are willing to tell me about what they are doing, they have started the process of investigating the case to see if it's worth pursuing in this way. However, they can't tell me how long it'll take or what the result is. They probably won't tell me when they've finished investigating without a lot of prodding from me either. And so far, they've been doing this since last September. I've heard nothing.
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From:tcpip
Date:February 19th, 2014 04:16 am (UTC)
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Excuse my ignorance of NZ's IIRD but surely it could be just taken a percentage from PAYG tax?
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 10:39 pm (UTC)
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They could if he were working for wages, or if he were on a benefit. He has been self-employed or working under the table for cash for most of the time this has been going on, and thus responsible for sorting his own taxes, which cuts out the PAYE avenue for the IRD.

I hear he was working in a proper job in the Coromandel for a while, but clearly the IRD failed to catch him and get a look into his wages before he moved on, because I saw none of that. And now he's on home detention so they can't claim they don't know where he is, but I doubt he has any kind of normal job either.
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From:tcpip
Date:February 19th, 2014 10:51 pm (UTC)
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Yes, cash-in-hand jobs would be impossible to trace. In Skippy-country however even self-employed people pay PAYG. The tax office, always inaccurately I may add, estimates in advance how much income tax you should pay and bills one accordingly.

I restrain myself before going on another rant on how there's only one good tax...
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 10:54 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, they do that here too. It's called provisional tax. However, chances are he won't have paid that either and he'll have a huge bill for it sitting there too. Also, I don't think they calculate Child Support as part of provisional tax, but I don't know anyone who's in that situation so I could be wrong.
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From:sophiawestern
Date:February 19th, 2014 04:31 am (UTC)
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Wow, that's insane.

Remind me again, what Is YoT's relationship with his dad? Do they get along? Does he want anything to do with his father?
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 10:41 pm (UTC)
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I think 'strained' would be a good way to describe it. He does want to see his Dad while he's up there but doesn't want to stay with him, and hasn't been to see him in over a year after telling him that his behaviour was really putting him off wanting to know him at all.

;-/
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From:meathiel
Date:February 19th, 2014 06:31 am (UTC)
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Wow that is ... ridiculous!
Esp. as he seems to have money - just not for his kid???
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From:tatjna
Date:February 19th, 2014 10:43 pm (UTC)
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I have no doubt that he has every intention of doing right by his kid. But his intentions always get sidelined by some emergency or important thing - usually the consequence of some stupid decision earlier on - so the result is a whole lot of empty promises that never result in anything solid.
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