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Payroll deductions

At payroll time, there are some payments you must deduct from your employees' wages or salary, like PAYE. There may also be voluntary payments your employees ask you to make on their behalf. 

Payroll is something lots of small business owners find it's better to contract out or employ someone to do, especially once there are a few employees on board. If you don't want the ongoing expense, consider getting some help to set up your systems or if things get tricky, eg you need to make an employee redundant.

PAYE and ACC levies

PAYE, or pay as you earn, is tax you deduct from any wages or salary you pay to an employee. It includes a payment towards their ACC earner’s levy. Inland Revenue provides PAYE deduction tables and calculators to help you work out how much to take out of your employees' pay.

Do you know the basics of taxes and levies for businesses? Take this quiz to find out.

KiwiSaver and other superannuation contributions

KiwiSaver is a voluntary scheme to help New Zealanders with their long-term saving for retirement.

When you hire an employee, find out if they’re eligible to join. If they are, but aren’t already registered, you need to enrol them. They can opt out, but you still need to enrol them first. Your employees have some choice as to how much they want to put towards their KiwiSaver fund, and you'll deduct their contributions from their pay. You also need to make employer contributions.

You'll be taxed on any cash contributions you make to an employee’s KiwiSaver or other superannuation scheme. This could be ESCT (employer superannuation contribution tax) or PAYE.

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If an employee has a student loan, you may need to deduct repayments from their pay. Whether you make deductions, and how much you deduct, is based on their income.

Inland Revenue’s PAYE deduction tables and calculators will show you how much to take out of their wages or salary based on their income.

You must make deductions as required, but your employees can ask you to make extra payments — if so, they’ll tell you how much more to take out of their pay. Inland Revenue can also ask you to deduct extra compulsory payments to put towards student loans.

If you need to deduct child support from an employee’s pay, Inland Revenue will send you a child support deduction notice.

Inland Revenue may ask you for some information first, like:

  • how often you pay your employees
  • when the next pay period or pay date is
  • if you want an employee reference included in the deduction notice.

Inland Revenue will let you know how much to take out of your employee’s pay. You can only stop deducting child support payments if Inland Revenue tells you to — your employee can't tell you to stop.

If you file your returns through Inland Revenue’s ir-File online service, you can give your employees the option to donate some of their pay to charity. This is known as payroll giving.

Employees can ask you to deduct a portion of their wages or salary to give to an approved charity of their choice. They’ll get a tax credit of about 33c for every dollar they donate.

Payroll giving (external link)  — Inland Revenue

Tax on schedular payments

Schedular payments (previously known as withholding payments) are the payments that you make to some types of self-employed contractors.

These are taxed at a flat rate regardless of the amount of pay received, and the rate is based on the type of work the contractor does.

These rates are different from the PAYE rates you use for employee salaries or wages. You must use the flat rates for schedular payments.

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