In response to the Earthquakes last week in Kaikoura the Government and the IRD have released a number of relief measures.

Two orders apply through to 28 February 2017 and these orders provide that:

  • Earthquake support subsidies paid on behalf of the Crown in relation to the earthquakes and aftershocks will not be taxable subsidies for GST purposes;
  • Inland Revenue may provide information to the Ministry of Social Development to enable the payment of Earthquake support subsidies.

A third order will expire on 31 January 2017 and provides that:

  • The Commissioner of Inland Revenue can remit interest charges relating to late payment of taxes where the taxpayer is physically prevented from making payment by the due date.

    In order to take advantage of this concession the order provides that the taxpayer must:

    - Ask for relief as soon as practicable, and
    - Make payment as soon as practicable

In addition, the Commissioner has made a decision to cancel late filing and late payment penalties for all affected taxpayers. The Commissioner has also announced discretions on the use of the income equalisation scheme for farmers and fishermen who are significantly affected by the earthquakes.

While tax will not be at the fore front of mind for those affected the measures represent a sensible step to remove any unnecessary pressure or burden during this time.