You are eligible to join KiwiSaver if you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident - migrants on work or other temporary permits are not eligible to join.
Employee KiwiSaver Contributions:
Employers deduct 2% (or more if you choose) of your pre-tax pay, and deposit it into your KiwiSaver account.
Employer KiwiSaver Contributions:
Employers also make matching contributions of 2% to employee’s KiwiSaver accounts. Some employers specify one or a number of KiwiSaver schemes that you can contribute to, while other employers allow you to select a scheme.
Government KiwiSaver Contributions:
Each new account is credited with a $1000 tax-free contribution from the government, and scheme members are also entitled to a tax credit of $20 per week (or $1040 per year). This is added directly to your KiwiSaver fund.
New Zealanders aged 18-65 who are not currently working can also contribute to a KiwiSaver scheme. They are eligible to receive the tax credits and the $1000 kick-start sum. To receive the full tax credit you must be contributing at least $20 a week to your scheme. You cannot join KiwiSaver if you are over 65.
Children under 18 can join KiwiSaver and receive the $1000 kick-start, but not the tax credit. Some schemes allow children to make one contribution at the start but do not require further instalments.
Once you have been contributing to KiwiSaver for one year, you can take indefinite “contributions holidays”, but you will not continue to receive the tax credits while you are not contributing to your scheme.
KiwiSaver Fund Access
Most people will not be able to access the funds held in KiwiSaver until they turn 65, except in special circumstances such as moving overseas permanently or significant financial hardship. One-off withdrawals will be allowed to help scheme members buy their first homes, once they have been contributing for three years. First-home buyers who have been contributing to KiwiSaver for three years will also be eligible for a subsidy, but this is subject to caps both on income and the purchase price of the house.
Although your contributions are calculated from your pre-tax pay, you do pay tax on your KiwiSaver contributions. Like all New Zealand superannuation funds, investment earnings on your KiwiSaver fund are taxed. This is calculated and paid automatically by your scheme provider.
Once you reach 65, you can take your fund as a lump sum with no further tax to pay.
KiwiSaver provides a good incentive to save for your retirement, and it is well worth considering opening an account for both you and your family members.
UK Pensions and KiwiSaver
A number of KiwiSaver schemes have QROPS approved status, and can accept pension transfers from UK pension providers. Please note that KiwiSaver schemes are far more restrictive than other NZ superannuation schemes, both in terms of when you can access the money and what you can invest it in. We would not normally recommend that a UK migrant lock their transferred pension funds into a KiwiSaver scheme.
For more information, see the KiwiSaver website. And please contact us for more information on setting up a KiwiSaver scheme. This article was contributed by Jeremy Henderson from Broadbase International. Their UK website, www.broadbaseimmigration.co.uk, has a great range of up-to-date articles on life in New Zealand written especially for prospective migrants.