KiwiSaver

General

I've joined KiwiSaver but I can't see any money in my KiwiSaver Account, why?

There's an initial delay when you first join KiwiSaver, as Inland Revenue holds your contributions for the first three months from the date of your first contribution before transferring them to SuperLife. If you have been a member of KiwiSaver for more than three months and you can't see your balance, contact us.

What is the difference between superannuation and KiwiSaver?
KiwiSaver Superannuation
  • Contributing members who are 18 or older may qualify for the annual MTC's (member tax credits) up to $521.43 per year.
  • If you are an employee you must contribute a minimum of 3% of your before tax income.
  • Your employer must also contribute at least 3% of your before tax income. The employer contribution is subject to tax.
  • If you are not employed, you can choose how much you contribute. If you can afford to, it pays to save at least $1,043 a year so you get the maximum government subsidy.
  • You are "locked-in" until retirement age (currently age 65, or 5 years after you joined - whichever is the later).

If you are an employee member:

  • Your employer may help by contributing to your savings.

If you are an individual member:

  • You can save as much or little as you like.
  • You can access your funds at any time.

 

Read more here.

Read more about the SuperLife workplace savings scheme here.

 

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Eligibility

How do I know if I am eligible for KiwiSaver?

If you are a New Zealand citizen or entitled to live in NZ indefinitely, are living or normally living in NZ (with some exceptions) and are below age 65 you should be eligible for KiwiSaver. More information about KiwiSaver eligibility can be found here.

Can I join my children up to KiwiSaver?

Yes, there is no minimum age. If the child is under 16 the signature of all legal guardians must be given and if the child is aged 16-17, the child must co-sign with one guardian. More informaiton on KiwiSaver for children can be found here

If I live overseas, can I still be a member of KiwiSaver?

You must be normally living in New Zealand to join KiwiSaver. Having joined, if you move overseas for an extended period you can remain in KiwiSaver, but you will not be eligible for the Member Tax Credits for the time you are out of NZ. There are some exceptions to this normal position, for examplle for state sector employees working overseas.

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Contributions

What is my minimum contribution level for KiwiSaver?

If you are an employee you must contribute a minimum of 3% of your before tax pay.  After 1 year you can stop contributing (i.e. go on a contributions holiday).  If you are not an employee, there is no minimum. You can choose not to contribute in the first year. 

Does my employer have to contribute to KiwiSaver?

Yes, your employer must contribute a minimum of 3% of your pay while you are also contributing 3% of your pay. The employer contribution applies for employees age 18 or older and under the KiwiSaver Retirement Age.

If I join KiwiSaver, do I have to contribute at least 3% of my pay until I reach my Retirement Age?

No, if you want to stop contributing to your KiwiSaver account, and have been a member of KiwiSaver for at least one year, you can go on a contributions holiday by telling the Inland Revenue using its KS6 form. Read more about contributions holidays here.

If I go on a contributions holiday will my employer still contribute a minimum of 3% of my pay?

Your employer does not have to make compulsory employer contributions to KiwiSaver if you are not contributing (for example, on a contributions holiday or on leave without pay).

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Accessing KiwiSaver funds

Can I access my KiwiSaver account before I retire?

There are some situations that may let you access some or all of your KiwiSaver balance before retirement. For example: significant financial hardship, permanent emigration or serious illness. For more information about these click here.

You may also be eligible to withdraw some of the balance in your KiwiSaver Account to buy your first home, this is known as the first home withdrawal. For more information about this click here.

How do I apply for financial hardship?

To apply for significant financial hardship withdrawal you will need to complete a significant financial hardship application form and send it to SuperLife with the appropriate evidence. Please contact us for a copy of the form. It is important to note that for the application to be approved by the Supervisor, it must meet the legislative test for significant financial hardship. You can find more information here.

What happens to my KiwiSaver Account if I die?

If you die, your savings will be paid to your estate. They therefore act as a funeral or tangi benefit.  It is important therefore, that you have a will and keep it up-to-date.

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KiwiSaver for first homes

What are the rules about first home withdrawals?

If you have been a member of KiwiSaver for at least three years and you are buying your first home, you can withdraw some of your KiwiSaver Account to help. You can withdraw all of your savings, the contributions by your employer, all the Member Tax Credits and all of the investment earnings in your KiwiSaver Account, except $1,000. 

More information about first home withdrawals through KiwiSaver can be found here.

How do I apply for a first home withdrawal?

To make a first home withdrawal, complete the first home withdrawal form and give it to your solicitor. Your solicitor must sign the legal confirmation where indicated and attach the information required from them. You must also sign the form where indicated. You or your solicitor should then send the completed form, together with documents required from them to SuperLife.

Am I eligible for a first home subsidy from the government known as a "HomeStart Grant"?

If you are eligible for a first home withdrawal you may be eligible for the extra HomeStart Grant. To qualify, you must have been saving in KiwiSaver for at least 3 years’ and your savings must have met the minimum contribution requirement (4% of your pay for 2007-2009, 2% from 2009 and 3% since 2013). For non-working people, the savings have to have met the minimum contribution requirement based on the minimum wage. if you have saved to a superannuation scheme instead of KiwiSaver you may also apply.

Read more about the additional rules regarding income levels and house values here.

How do I apply for a HomeStart Grant?

The HomeStart Grant is administered by Housing New Zealand. You can apply for a pre-approval if you have found a house or land, or you can apply for the HomeStart Grant directly.

If you would like to apply for a HomeStart Grant you will need to download the HomeStart Grant application form from the Housing New Zealand website.

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KiwiSaver for children

Can children join?

Yes. There is no minimum age.

Does the child have to have a job?

No. KiwiSaver applies to employees and non-employees. They do, however, have to have an IRD number. You can obtain an IRD number for a child by completing the IRD application form here.

Do the member tax credits also apply?

No. Until your child turns 18, they do not get the $10 a week member tax credits (MTC's) (i.e. $521.43 a year). Once they turn 18, you/they should consider contributing $1,042.86 a year to get the government $521.43 MTC payment. 

What happens if they start a part-time job?

If they start a part time job and they are in KiwiSaver, they have to pay 3% of their wages to KiwiSaver unless they are on a contributions holiday. They can go on a contributions holiday once they have been in KiwiSaver for 1 year.

What if I want to save?

If you want to save you can write out a cheque and send it to us, or set up a direct debit authority. If you want to save more, e.g. for the child’s education, consider whether it should be saved in KiwiSaver or the alternative SuperLife myFutureFund scheme. This has the same investment options but is not locked in i.e. you can take it out for education or other purposes.

What investment option should I pick?

This is up to you, but for most children until they are 18 they should consider an option that is mostly shares or shares and property. This should give them the highest average return and at the same time teach them about the ups and down of the investment markets.

Will the rules change?

Probably. KiwiSaver has been designed by politicians and therefore we expect future politicians to change the rules. It is unlikely that they will take away the free money already paid, but they might change its availability for the future.

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 Investments

Why is my investment return negative but I still pay tax?

The New Zealand tax laws are complex because investment earnings are taxed in one of three ways and not all investment earnings are taxable. An explanation of the tax treatment of earnings is here. With New Zealand shares, for example, tax is only payable on the dividends we receive. The market movement is not taxable. So if we receive a 6% dividend and the market goes up by 10%, your total return is 16% but you only pay tax on 6%. Likewise if the market goes down by 10%, your total return is -4% (i.e. 6% dividend less 10% market downturn) but you still pay tax on the 6% dividend. The same applies for Australian shares. Over the long term we expect the share market to go up and so you will pay less tax than you would if the total return was taxable, but over short periods you get strange looking results.

Overseas shares are more complex. With overseas shares we pay tax on 5% of the assets as if we always get a 5% return. This is irrespective of what return we get. Again long term we expect to pay less tax than your PIR rate but when the markets go down we still have to pay tax.

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Superannuation

Contributions

Can I make regular contributions?

Yes, if you are an individual member you can make regular conributions by monthly direct debit from your bank account. If you are an employee member, you and your spouse/partner can make regular contributions from your pay.

Can I change my regular contributions?

You can change your regular contributions at any time - just complete a change savings contributions form. Note: if your employer is subsidising your contributions, your particular scheme may have some rules about contributions levels.

Can I make lump sum contributions?

All members can make lump sum contributions at any time. Just fill in a save a lump sum payment form and send it to us with a cheque, or with notification that you have credited our bank account (details for this are on the form).

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Accessing money

Can I withdraw my money?

- If you have an individual account with SuperLife: you can withdraw your retirement savings by completing a benefit payment form.

- If you have an account through your employer: your employer may have certain restrictions about when you can withdraw your money - you will have to ask them or phone SuperLife.

I'm leaving my place of work, when can I access my superannuation?

Your employer will inform SuperLife when you leave and payments will be made under the employer's rules. When you leave you can still remain in SuperLife and continue to save for your retirement.

Seeing my balances

Viewing your account is easy with SuperLife. Go to mySuperLife and enter your details to view your accounts. If you have not logged on to mySuperLife before, you will need to register your account first. To do this click here and fill in the details. When registering your account you are required to have your SuperLife Registration PIN. If you do not have this you will need to contact SuperLife to get it.

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Changing/updating

How do I change my personal details?

The easiest way for you to change your personal details is by logging on to mySuperLife - your changes will be updated immediately. Alternatively, you can download the update personal details form - this will take slightly longer to process. Remember, if you change your name or address, you will need to provide proof of the new details under the anti money laundering rules. See here for more details.

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Misc.

I'm not able to download the forms, why?

To download the documents on this site you must have a copy of Adobe's acrobat reader. Download Adobe Reader here.

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Investing

How is my money invested?

When you invest with SuperLife you choose an investment strategy. This can be one of our pre-determined Mixes or you can create your own Mix. More information about SuperLife's investment options can be found here. If you would like more information about investing, have a look at our educational resources section.

How do I change my investment strategy?

The easiest way for you to change your investment strategy is to log on to mySuperLife. Alternatively you can download the change investment strategy form and send it, completed, to us.

How do I set up an account for a child?

There are a number of ways that you can set an account up for a child through SuperLife. SuperLife offers myFutureFund which lets family and friends save for a child's future. This product is similar to a normal investment account with the exception that the FutureFundGuardian has the power do decide when and how the money is used, not the child, until the child is 25 or the FutureFund Guardian delegates authority. myFutureFund can also be combined with KiwiSaver to give an extra boost to the child's future. Read more about myFutureFund here.

What is a PIR and why do I need one?

PIR stands for prescribed investor rate and refers to the rate at which the invested income allocated to you under a portfolio investment entity (PIE), like SuperLife, is taxed.

This is the rate of tax that SuperLife uses to tax your investment earnings.

How do I know what my PIR is?

Your PIR is based on your taxable income. Currently, PIRs can be 10.5%, 17.5% or 28%. For people earning above $48,000 their PIR is generally 28%. However if you earned less than $48,000 a year, in any of the last two financial years, it may be 10.5% or 17.5%. For more information including a useful tool to help you work out what your PIR rate should be read our PIR guide.

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IRD numbers

What is an IRD number and how do I know if I need one?

An IRD number is a unique number issued to you by Inland Revenue. If you earn an income, file tax returns and/or plan on investing with SuperLife, including KiwiSaver and/or myFutureFund, you will need an IRD number.

If you are unsure if you already have an IRD number you will need to contact the IRD. The IRD's contact information can be found here.

- How do I get an IRD number for myself?

- How do I get an IRD number for a child?

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Insurance

General

Do I need life insurance?

If you have a family, or if someone is dependent on your income, you may want to think about getting life insurance.

How much life insurance do I need?

The amount of life insurance you need will differ from person to person and according to your circumstances. Most people should have enough life insurance to ensure that their family/dependants can continue to live without struggling to make ends meet. For more information read our article "How much life insurance do I need?".

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