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The current legislation is an illegal under the Bill of Rights 1990.

Filed under: General — Vman @ 2:35 pm Mon 6th April 2009

The current legislation is an income tax levied on certain parents and not on others. I refer to it as a child tax because that is in fact what it is. It is an illegal tax under the NZ Bill of Rights.

There is nothing in the legislation that relates to the cost of caring for a child.

The money collected under this legislation is based on income of a certain minority. There is very little provision for any other factor other than the income of this minority group. The income of the receiving party is not considered by this legislation. The main point is that it is an income tax. It is not a cost-of-caring-for-child tax.

There is no requirement, monitoring or control for money collected under this legislation to be spent on caring for a child. The money can and is spent on anything at all.

The money collected under this legislation goes either to the government consolidated fund or it goes to whomever the receiving party chooses. What I mean by this is that the person who is nominated to receive this money can elect to have the money sent directly to anyone they like for any reason. It could be directed straight to their TAB account for example. The legislation explicitly provides that the money can go to someone other than the person nominated as being a carer of the child. This is but one example in the legislation that makes it clear that it is a form of tax to be used by the recipient anyway desired.
“The NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 can protect your rights in two ways:
– The Courts can recognise your rights. However, the Courts may need to balance your rights against the rights of others and the interest of the whole community.
– The Bill of Rights requires the Attorney General to report to Parliament if any proposed law appears inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act. The government will have to justify the need for such a law.
The Act says that any limits on your rights must be reasonable.”[1]

“3. Non-Discrimination and Minority Rights
You have the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status, religious belief, ethical belief, colour, race, ethnic or national origins, disability, age, political opinion, employment status, family status, and sexual orientation.” [1]

[1] Source Ministry of Justice:

The current legislation clearly discriminates against a minority in the community based on marital and family status in favour of another group based on their marital and family status.
The legislation must therefore pass the test of balancing the rights of the people being taxed against the rights of others and the interest of the whole community
The current legislation does not protect the rights or interests of the child.
As stated previously the current legislation has nothing at all to do with the cost of caring for the child. There is no requirement, monitoring or control that the money must be spent in the child’s interests. In fact the legislation explicitly allows for the money to be spent on other things.
There is only a vague relationship between the care of the child and who gets the money collected. For example much of the money goes to the government. More importantly, in general the care of the child by the person being taxed is not considered.
As the current legislation has been amended over and over again, clauses that may have provided some protection to the rights of the child have been explicitly removed. There Trend of law makers with this legislation illustrates that the intent of the legislation has moved even further away from protecting the rights of the child and further towards an income tax.
This means that the current legislation does not balance the rights of the child against the fact that is discriminates against a minority of people based on marital status and family status.

It also does not protect the interests of other children involved in blended families. In fact it makes their lives more difficult.

I am not aware of any research or evidence that the community is better off with this current legislation. There are arguments based on ideology and anecdotal evidence both ways on this point. Part of the problem with assessing the net outcome for the community is that the legislation has no relation to the cost for caring for the child. Part of the problem is that the simplistic assumptions of the legislation are ideological, outdated and deeply flawed. Part of the problem is that the implementation of the legislation is a failure. A large number of people can not or will not comply with this system. An even greater number are experiencing real hardship and loss of freedom in order to try to comply.

In addition when considering the interests of the community an erroneous assumption is made that insufficient money would be made available to care for the child. This is not substantiated by the available evidence.

Further more if this legislation was determined to be illegal under the Bill of Rights it would clearly be replaced by other child focused and equitable legislation. In other words the comparison is not between this legislation and having no scheme at all. When weighing the interests of the community of this legislation one must consider that rather than no scheme, some other scheme based on the cost of raising a child would replace it.

Hence the current legislation fails the test of whether the discrimination against one minority based on family status and marital status is balanced by the rights of others and the interests of the whole community.

The current scheme is illegal under the NZ Bill of Rights 1990.
I also believe it is illegal under UN conventions of human rights.

The current scheme is NOT a child support scheme it is a minority income tax scheme.

It would be simple to replace the current scheme with a scheme based on the cost of raising a child across two households. This has been demonstrated in other jurisdictions such as in Australia.


  1. Absolutely goddam right, no checks or balances to make sure the kids get the money at all. It could be drugs, drink, betting, bad money management, shoes, holidays, anything at all in fact. I have lodged a request with my local MP (Allan Peachey) who groaned and said “Bloody Child Support” (how professional is that ?) about what the percentages are made up of, as IRD won’t tell me. If enough people start asking the question, then we’ll start to get some action about why it’s so high …

    Comment by Blocky — Mon 6th April 2009 @ 9:22 pm

  2. The problem is, everytime we complain, we get called deadbeat dads who are trying to get out of supporting their children!

    Comment by Scott B — Mon 6th April 2009 @ 10:27 pm

  3. Well there you go … don’t complain … demand answers to questions that highlight just how unjust a system it really is over here. Complaining never will get anyone anywhere. If enough people ask the same question (i.e. how come mothers can choose to stay at home and not work while fathers are obliged to ?) then it will be heard. And whats the cost of phoning, dropping a line or sending an email to an MP ? 15 minutes of time …

    Yes I’m on a very high horse, but it seems`there are a lot of people in the stands telling the players how to play instead of actually joining in the game

    Comment by Blocky — Mon 6th April 2009 @ 11:49 pm

  4. NZ [Spousal and] Child Support is largely copied from the previous, now obsolete Australian system, but with slightly increased % of income. This can be sen in the footnotes of the NZ Act.

    The Australian system was copied from the Canadian system, but with moderately increased % of income. The current Australia [Spousal and] Child Support formula now includes recognition of the care costs of the non-custodial parent, below the 40% care threshold for ignoring, that still applies in NZ.

    The Canadian system was copied from one of the USA States, Wisconsin if I recall correctly, but with moderately increased % of income.

    Remember that Canada, Australia and NZ have high tax rates, which cover hospital and education costs, so it would be reasonable to expect that Canada, Australia and NZ would have a lower % of income than USA, as the [Spousal and] Child Support payment doesn’t have to cover for education and hospital costs, these have already been paid through income taxes.

    As a result, [Spousal and] Child Support/Taxpayers in NZ, Australia and Canada end up with a noticeably lower standard of living than the custodial parent.

    The “Child Support Act” was mainly intended to recover the costs of the Domestic Purposes Benefit. This attempt was insincere, as generally the non-custodial parents are in lower income bands, than average. Thus there isn’t much income to tax, to recover the rather generous DPB.

    If benefit cost recovery was the genuine intention, then custody would be offered to both parents, on the basis of being given to the parent who who would agree to accept the lowest benefit, a form of dutch auction. Possibly surprisingly, this simple equation would almost certainly provide the best protection for the children, as work capability is quite a good proxy for mental health!

    Oh so simple and straightforward, but damnedly Politically Incorrect!

    The non-custodial parents must be quite thick, to not factor this history of gender-cheating-manipulation into their voting decisions?

    Years after the Australians have reformed their treatment of non-custodial parents with care in the 15% to 40% range, NZ non-custodial parents are still being cheated financially by IRD and custodially by the familycaught laughing clowns, with NO END IN SIGHT!!!!!!!

    Don’t be an easy sucker, MurrayBacon.

    Comment by MurrayBacon — Tue 7th April 2009 @ 12:51 am

  5. Is there anyone able to mount a legal challenge on the basis of inconsistency with the Bill of Rights? It would be in interesting exercise and could bring useful publicity and scrutiny. However, I don’t recall the Bill of Rights ever having the power to stop or change whatever legislation successive governments have wanted. The Bill of Rights seems toothless and ineffective. That’s one reason why we need a strong Constitution with real rights truly protected.

    Comment by Hans Laven — Wed 8th April 2009 @ 10:23 am

  6. I’d be interested to support anyone who wants to mount a challenge to the current law.
    My situation is that I have almost equal custody (6/8), work full time, while my ex is getting married to some millionaire and I have to pay her a huge amount of my net income.Last year I had equal custody and still had to pay. Doesn’t seem fair to pay when we share time with them, especially when she is economically independent now with her fiance so she chooses to work just a few hours a week.

    Comment by John — Wed 8th April 2009 @ 4:52 pm

  7. I agree completely. Still, the Bill of Rights does exist and it is useful in the court of public opinion. I think it helps to bring some rational thinking into the debate about this current child tax.

    Comment by Dave — Wed 8th April 2009 @ 5:28 pm

  8. I think the answer to this irrational attack is to phrase things in terms of childrens needs. People that result to name calling and personal attacks have already lost the debate.

    Comment by Dave — Thu 9th April 2009 @ 12:07 am

  9. Family Law is not about justice or fairness, John, it is about the state harvesting money from men to pay for the single mothers’ DPB. That is why they have to have secret courts to hide their dirty work . To any impartial observer it is obvious that you should not pay up , when your wife is marrying a rich man.
    When there is NO justice there is vigilanteeism, MORE MEN SHOULD remember this

    Comment by secret societies — Fri 10th April 2009 @ 9:10 am

  10. Well in terms of the Child Tax you have to keep in mind that it is the most extensively boycotted tax in New Zealand’s history. There has never been a financial law that so many people are either unable or unwilling to comply with. With each amendment to this law the amount of money outstanding has increased. If that isn’t an indication that the assumptions of the law are flawed what is? The only way they have come up with to reduce the rate of increase is to write off penalties.

    So in a sense Secret’s point is already in evidence in a wide scale.

    Comment by Dave — Sat 11th April 2009 @ 4:21 pm

  11. has anyone written articles on what can be done legally to reduce the amount of child tax that we have to pay? I was thinking about my experiences in the family caught and now understand how to play it, so may put down some legal tricks on paper as newbies will go into court thinking its like a normal court and get the shock of their lifes when they realize it isn’t. I have some friends who are in jobs that enable them to hide some money, and also self employed people have some tricks they can do with trusts, companies, etc. The latter being quite legal obviously.

    Comment by John — Mon 13th April 2009 @ 12:14 am

  12. Groups like Union of Fathers and North Shore Men’s Centre have a body of knowledge about such things.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Mon 13th April 2009 @ 12:27 pm

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