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Is IRD showing increasing awareness of self-harm?

Filed under: General — Downunder @ 2:21 pm Tue 21st October 2014

I didn’t see this article published back on the 8th October.

Includes comment from Union of Fathers (New Zealand)

Taxpayers, some facing crippling penalties, are increasingly threatening to harm themselves when dealing with the taxman.

According to official Inland Revenue figures, the number of its clients making “self-harm” threats in the past five years has nearly tripled.

There was a six-fold increase in offensive behaviour towards staff and the amount of money outstanding on child support rose by more than $1 million.

The department is enlisting Lifeline to look at how it deals with distressed callers and staff facing abuse.

The figures do show a positive – online compliments have more than tripled in five years.

Inland Revenue commissioner’s correspondence manager, Christina Goodall, said the leap in self-harm figures could be because of “increased awareness” among staff.

Taxes and social-policy debts could cause “significant distress”, and options such as instalment payments were available.

Debts could be wholly or partly wiped in hardship cases, she said.

“Offensive behaviour” cases – which jumped from 24 five years ago to 156 last year – included rude gestures, intimidation, harassment, and intoxication.

In the five years, eight clients were trespassed from the department’s offices for aggressive or threatening behaviour.

Inland Revenue spokesman Rowan McArthur said staff were dealing with suicide threats as well, citing the case of a Christchurch collections officer who last month received an award for their dealing with a child-support caller who discussed suicide.

The team leader then called the customer to check on him, McArthur said.

“[The customer] said he wanted to thank our person for taking such a caring approach and restoring his faith in human nature and in a government department.”

Allan Harvey, from the Union of Fathers, said the figures did not show the number of fathers who skipped New Zealand to avoid mounting child-support debts.

One father, whose child had lived with him in Australia for the past six years, recently received a $139,000 child-support bill.

Most of that was in penalties because late payments incurred a 10 per cent penalty, plus 2 per cent more each month, or 38 per cent a year.

Subsequent years had another 2 per cent penalty a month, equating to 27 per cent a year.

The department could often be talked into dropping penalties, if people knew to ask, he said.

Changes in the pipeline next year for child support would make things “slightly better”.

“The penalty puts people off and drives people overseas.”

Among those changes, late-payment penalties will be slightly eased.


  1. Subsequent years had another 2 per cent penalty a month, equating to 27 per cent a year

    Just as a revision of political history.

    It was the national government that decided that loan sharks should still be allowed to operate. What an extortionate interest rate. I remember hearing that the excuse was that they are not a bank. That’s true, no bank would rip their customers off like that. They must be loan sharks.

    Comment by The man in Absentia — Tue 21st October 2014 @ 5:08 pm

  2. What they haven’t told us is how many they killed.

    What is the suicide rate for non child support paying men.
    What is the suicide rate for child support paying men.

    What is the suicide rate for teenage males who are not fathers.
    What is the suicide rate for teenage fathers.

    Imagine that instead of propaganda we got the truth.

    Then in stead of talking out threats of self harm.
    We can talk about a mass suicide.
    A lost generation.

    Comment by The man in Absentia — Wed 22nd October 2014 @ 3:35 pm

  3. Debts could be wholly or partly wiped in hardship cases, she said

    Is being forced to pay for a child that you don’t see, a hardship.
    Is being forced to pay for a child that you hardly ever get to see, possibly only following a plane trip, a hardship.
    Forced to pay for a child you never consented to having, a hardship.
    Forced to pay for a child when you hardly have any idea about paternity, a hardship.

    Seems like there is a lot of versions of suffering but no hardship.

    If this imaginary hardship does take place, it must be terrifying.

    Comment by The man in Absentia — Wed 22nd October 2014 @ 3:45 pm

  4. Christina Goodall talks with forked tongue when she says;

    “Debts could be wholly or partly wiped in hardship cases, she said.”

    Assessment Debt (the Child Support due itself) cannot be written off by IRD and under current legislation neither can the immediate penalty default of a further 10%.

    I know of no case where Child Support debt can be wholly wiped by IRD, be there hardship or not.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Wed 22nd October 2014 @ 4:17 pm

  5. “Offensive behaviour” cases – which jumped from 24 five years ago to 156 last year – included rude gestures, intimidation, harassment, and intoxication.

    There is a principle in the law that goes along the lines of ‘if he punches you, you can punch back. If he pulls a knife on you, you are aloud to get a knife’

    Are these ‘men?’ just observing their legal rights.

    Some things IRD do are rude.
    Some things IRD do are very intimidating.
    Some things IRD do are forms of harassment.

    And you would have to be drunk running IRD knowing you were using all those falsified documents, called birth certificates, to extort money from victims.

    Don’t forget the lying to children. New born babies!
    IRD must like living on a moral high ground.

    Comment by The man in Absentia — Wed 22nd October 2014 @ 4:23 pm

  6. Unfortunately IRD is a bureaucracy working within legislation that does not allow for much personality, humanity or creativity to show. There are some very good people within the system. There top brass have a genuine desire to listen and improve what they can.
    In several cases I have been amazed at just how helpful they can be but always within a legislative straightjacket.

    Comment by Allan Harvey — Wed 22nd October 2014 @ 5:30 pm

  7. USA Child Support Policy and Robert Williams – where it all started from.

    When any coercive organisation ie acting with Government power, over responds to one case, because it suspects that it didn’t achieve all that it wanted to on the previous case – then it is acting outside of proportionality.

    When caught$ or Goverments act outside of proportionality ie “the punishment fits the crime”, then they become just plain abusive. As citizens become aware that the treatments are capricious, unfair and unable to be influenced by evidence, then citizens lose all faith and are justified in protecting themselves, by acting outside of the law.

    Of course the same applies in criminal caught$, when serious criminals (presumably with friends within police or caught$ system)are sprung by prosecution failing to prosecute, yet trivial cases involving members of the public have the book thrown at them. Again – not acting proportionately to the crime……

    It is bad for your mental health to worry about these problems.

    Which is the best ethical approach to correcting these problems?

    Just keeping reading about them and wondering what might be done by someone else to sort it out.
    Safer to shoot the problems until the system is back in working order. If there are no problems, noone gets shot!


    Comment by MurrayBacon — Wed 22nd October 2014 @ 7:09 pm

  8. It is a Woman’s choice you know.

    There are a zillion ways a woman can avoid getting pregnant, including abstinence.

    Men have condom, sterilization or abstinence.

    When two unprotected people have sex – please note the plurality – resulting in pregnancy, it is
    1. the woman that gets pregnant
    2. the woman that can have the child and be a mother
    3. the woman that can murder the child, or have the child murdered without consequence
    4. the man did it to the woman, inflicted pregnancy on her, like she didn’t have the bits that allow it, only he did.
    5. the man knew about the consequences of having sex, but the woman didn’t
    6. The sex only happened to the woman, the man didn’t make any contribution to a pregnancy
    7. It is the man that has ultimate responsibility for protection, and no responsibility for the one who actually claims the choice. (I can’t figure that one out……)
    8. During pregnancy there is only a mother, there is no father
    8. If there is a child, there is suddenly a father, who has no rights prior to birth, and gets no rights after the birth, just 19 years of responsibility, because mother has a child to stay home and look after.

    Ladies, if you want the right to your body, and the choice of whether to be pregnant or not:

    1. Keep unprotected dicks out of it, unless you want to share a pregnancy and its decisions with your sex partner.
    2. Your right to not get pregnant comes with a responsibility to take steps to avoid it.
    3. Otherwise, there are two parties to the pregnancy, and two parties to the decisions.

    Why do men put up with this shit, and why do men legislate to provide for it??? FFS

    Comment by ornerybloke — Sat 1st November 2014 @ 2:00 am

  9. Um. Sorry about that last post. It is a little out of context. I might have accidently imbibed lots of beer, I think, maybe, and dropped it in the wrong spot……..ZZZzzzzzz … .

    Comment by ornerybloke — Sat 1st November 2014 @ 3:18 am

  10. Not a long reply. My wife earned $3000ish and has just received a tax bill for $3800ish. My protestations on her behalf are ignored. Apparently I am not “moving forward,” and asking for the stuff-up to be fixed is “escalating” the problem. Can’t help but think that they think I am a male chauvinist attempting to rip off the system.
    I think the culture needs to change. Maddening to deal with; I can see why someone might get a bit desperate when pruned back to the core financially and still expected to croak to IRDs tune.

    Comment by Stephen Butcher — Thu 13th November 2014 @ 9:42 pm

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