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Inland Revenue to stop accepting cheques

Inland Revenue is reminding customers it will no longer accept cheques come 1 March.

The news comes following similar moves by the Accident Compensation Corporation, Kiwibank and New Zealand Post.

Inland Revenue says it is calling time on cheques because of their rapidly declining use, the end of the cheque processing machine’s working life, and unsupported software.

Inland Revenue spokesperson Sharon Thompson says IR is increasingly digital in the way it works, and most customers already choose to pay their taxes electronically.  

“Cheques have been used over many years and we recognise this will be a significant change for some, and one that might take some adjustment. But it’s a change that has to be made,” Thompson says.

“Since 2016, cheque use generally in New Zealand has dropped by 50%. At Inland Revenue, cheque volumes were rapidly declining year on year. Since our announcement in September 2019, the number of cheques received dropped immediately by 45%.

“We’ve talked with organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Grey Power, Age Concern and other stakeholders," she says.

Thompson says Inland Revenue has also developed an exception process for people who can’t use any of the available alternative payment options and requests for an exception are worked through on a case by case basis.

“To date we’ve received 160 requests for an exception. We’ve granted 76 exceptions, turned down 22 (where an alternative payment method was available) with a further 62 to be processed. We hope to have these complete by the end of this week,” she says.

“Our cheque processing technology is at the end of its life and replacing it, when cheque use is rapidly declining, isn’t a prudent use of taxpayer funds.

“The machine used to scan and process cheques will be decommissioned and IR is looking towards a future of not receiving or issuing any paper cheques," says Thompson.

”There are plenty of other payment options that are simpler, easier and safer. A myIR account lets you manage all your IR matters securely online. You can use it to pay IR with a credit or debit card. You can also set up a direct debit to authorise IR to take payments from your nominated bank account.

“Banks also offer a wide range of payment options. Westpac is still accepting over the counter payments - you don’t have to be a Westpac customer to do that. You will need a barcode however so IR will be adding a barcode to all letters requesting payment," she adds.