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National: First of three cost of living payments received today

4:30 pm on 27 July 2022

By Jessica Hopkins 

Photo: Revenue Minister David Clark is defending the cost of living payment, after New Zealanders living overseas were told they were eligible. 

The first of three $116 instalments are due to be automatically deposited into the bank accounts of more than two million people today as part of the government’s plan to tackle the growing cost of living.

Announced as part of the 2022 Budget in May, the cost of living payment aims to provide short-term support to low and middle income earners. 

Those eligible will receive $350 over three instalments. 

The payment works out to provide an additional $27 per week over three months.

The money is supposed to go to New Zealand tax residents over the age of 18 living in the country, who earned up to $70,000 last financial year and are not entitled to the winter energy payment.

However, New Zealanders living overseas have received letters from Inland Revenue saying they qualify for the cost of living bonus, despite not being New Zealand tax residents.

Inland Revenue says it will not pursue people who wrongly received the money. 

Revenue Minister David Parker has estimated fewer than one in 100 people would receive the payment in error.

Parker says it would be more expensive to manually check the eligibility of every person rather than distribute the cash through an automated system.

"We always knew that some people would be getting this payment at the margins who wouldn't be eligible, but we know that it's a very, very small number and the alternative was more expensive than the money that would be saved."

Public interest journalism funded through NZ on Air.