Terminal tax isn’t due until 7 April – so why’s IRD already charging interest?

Terminal tax isn’t due until 7 April – so why’s IRD already charging interest?

Terminal tax isn’t due until 7 April – so why’s IRD already charging interest? 1200 630 Lee Stace
Image: Puzzled person

Just because a terminal tax amount for the 2019-20 income year is not due and payable until 7 April does not mean Inland Revenue (IRD) is not already charging interest.

Why is this happening, you may be asking?

There could be several reasons. The method used to calculate your provisional tax payments, your income tax liability for the year or whether you underpaid or failed to pay an instalment on time and in full can all be factors.

However, to understand why that might be happening, one needs to understand the different interest rules that apply for provisional taxpayers.

Below we explain how they work for those who used the standard uplift or estimation methods to calculate their payments during the 2019-20 income year.

We also cover the somewhat unfair rules that apply for new provisional taxpayers in their first year of trading because these often catch people out.

Standard uplift method

Please refer to the table below.

If your income tax liability for the year is…And you paid…Then…
Less than $60,000All uplift instalments on time and in full or had no obligation to pay provisional tax for the year.IRD interest should only apply from your terminal tax date if you fail to pay by then the final balance required to satisfy your liability for the 2019-20 income year.
$60,000 or moreThe uplift instalments on time and in full at all instalment dates prior to the last one.  

Any final balance remaining to settle what is owed for the year at the date of the final instalment.
IRD interest should only apply from the date of your final instalment if you fail to pay by then the remaining balance to satisfy your liability for the 2019-20 income year.
But what happens if you did not pay an uplift instalment on time or in full?

In this situation, the following rules will apply.

When provisional tax is underpaid or paid late at an instalment date prior to the final one for the 2019-20 income year, IRD will charge interest on the lesser of:

  • The uplift payment due, minus any amount paid in relation to that instalment; or
  • The actual income tax liability for the year divided by the number of instalment dates for the year, minus any amount paid in relation to that instalment.

At the date of the final instalment, IRD will also charge interest on the remaining balance owing to settle your liability for the year.

Estimation method

For those who used or switched to the estimation method at any time during their 2019-20 income year, IRD may be charging interest as far back as the date of the first provisional tax instalment if you did not pay enough tax to satisfy your actual liability.

Interest will be charged based on the following: The income tax liability for the year divided by the number of instalments payable for the year, minus any amount paid in relation to that instalment.

New provisional taxpayers

A different set of rules apply to those in their first year of trading whose income tax liability is $60,000 or more.

That’s because they will be deemed to be a new provisional taxpayer.

A taxpayer must meet certain criteria to be considered a new provisional taxpayer. This criteria differs for individuals and companies/trusts.

For the 2019-20 income year, an individual is a new provisional taxpayer if they satisfy ALL of the below:

  • Their income tax liability for the year is $60,000 or more.
  • Their income tax liability in each of the four previous tax years was $2500* or less; and
  • They stopped receiving income from employment and started to receive income from a taxable activity during that tax year.

A Company/trust is a new provisional taxpayer in the 2019-20 income year if they satisfy ALL of the below:

  • Their income tax liability for that tax year is $60,000 or more; and
  • They did not receive taxable income from a taxable activity in any of the four previous years.
How many interest instalments

IRD will charge interest based on the number of instalments you could have paid if you are a new provisional taxpayer.

The number of instalments you could have paid is based on the date you started your taxable activity.

For those with a 31 March balance, please refer to the table below.

If your first year of trading starts…Then the number of provisional tax instalments payable is…
Before 29 JulyThree (28 August, 15 January and 7 May)
On/after 29 July but before 16 DecemberTwo (15 January and 7 May)
On 16 December or any time after thatOne (7 May)

These dates will differ if your balance date is not 31 March or you file GST returns on a six-monthly basis.

Interest will be charged based on the following: The income tax liability for the year divided by the number of instalments payable for the year, minus any amount paid in relation to that instalment.

*For the 2020-21 income year onward, the threshold was increased to $5000.

How Tax Management NZ can help

If there is IRD interest showing on your account, there’s a way to reduce this cost significantly.

As an IRD-approved tax pooling provider, Tax Management NZ (TMNZ) can apply tax paid to IRD on the original due date against your liability if you have missed or underpaid your provisional tax for the 2019-20 income year.

This wipes any IRD interest and late payment penalties showing on your account.

How it works

You pay the core tax plus TMNZ’s interest to us rather than paying IRD directly.

Once we receive your payment, we transfer the date-stamped tax amount you require from our account at IRD to your IRD account.

As the tax carries a date stamp, IRD treats it as if you have paid on time once it processes this tax pooling transaction. This eliminates any late payment penalties incurred.

TMNZ’s interest cost is up to 30 percent cheaper than the interest IRD charges if you underpay your tax. As of 8 May 2020, IRD debit interest is currently seven percent.

You have up to 75 days past your terminal tax date for that tax year to pay the additional provisional or terminal tax you owe via TMNZ.

That means if you have a 7 April 2021 terminal tax date, you have until mid-June to settle your income tax for the 2019-20 income year.

Please contact us if you have any questions about tax pooling.

Lee Stace

Lee Stace is the PR and Content Manager at Tax Management NZ.

All posts by: Lee Stace