Trouble with Work and Income: Penalties, investigations and overpayments
Information sharing and matching between Work and Income and other government agencies
Social Security Act 2018, s 6, Sched 2, Sched 6, cl 13, cl 14, cl 15 Privacy Act 1993, Part 9 & Sched 2A, Part 10 & Sched 3 Privacy (Information Sharing Agreement between Inland Revenue and Ministry of Social Development) Order 2017
If you don’t update Work and Income about a change in your circumstances, they might still be able to find out because of information-sharing and information-matching agreements with other government agencies (see: “Can government bodies share personal information between each other?”).
For example, Work and Income can find out:
- Your employment status and whether your income matches what you’ve declared – Work and Income has both information-sharing and information-matching agreements with Inland Revenue (IRD). If you haven’t declared income, Work and Income will probably notify you that you’ve been overpaid. There are specific rules as to how soon Work and Income must take action in these cases (see: “Overpayments: When you’re paid too much by mistake”).
- When you leave New Zealand – Work and Income has information-matching agreements with the New Zealand Customs Service. Generally, you can’t keep getting a work-tested benefits while you’re away from New Zealand. There are some exceptions allowed for specific compassionate or medical grounds. People receiving New Zealand Superannuation can be absent for six months before their income support stops (see: “You’re 65 or older”).
- If you’re serving a prison sentence, or you’re being held in prison until the next step in your case (“on remand”) – The Ministry of Justice provides Work and Income with this information under an information-matching agreement. Generally, your income support will stop, but Work and Income has the discretion to continue income support in some cases.
Work and Income can also give your information to other government agencies – for example, Work and Income can pass on your address and phone number to the Ministry of Justice if you have unpaid fines.