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Families Package - what's changing?

From 1 July 2018, financial support for New Zealand families will increase. The changes include:

More information about all these changes will be available by June 2018.

What is a Best Start tax credit? 

Best Start tax credit is a weekly payment of $60 (up to $3,120 per year) per child for a baby born on or after 1 July 2018. If your baby is due on or after 1 July 2018 but is born earlier than 1 July you are still eligible. Please contact us to let us know if this has happened.   

For the first year of the baby's life the family's income is not taken into account. For families earning less than $79,000, Best Start will continue at $60 per week until the child turns 3. If the family income is above $79,000, payments will reduce or stop depending on your income.

Best Start payments replace the parental tax credit on 1 July 2018.

When do Best Start payments begin? 

We will start paying Best Start from 1 July 2018 to customers whose babies are born on or after 1 July 2018.

If you are planning to get PPL payments then your Best Start payments will start once your PPL payments end. You can't get Best Start and PPL payments at the same time. 

If you're an existing Work and Income customer, please contact them to discuss your options.

My baby is due after 1 July 2018, what happens if it comes early?

If your baby's expected due date is on or after 1 July 2018 and is born before this date you are still eligible for Best Start. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for the parental tax credit and you may choose to receive this instead of Best Start.

Parental tax credit is a weekly payment of up to $220 paid for the first 10 weeks after your baby was born.

Find out if you're eligible for parental tax credit and if this would be the better option for you


You can't receive the parental tax credit and Best Start for the same child.

Am I eligible for Best Start payments?

To be eligible for Best Start:

  • you must be the principal caregiver of the child
  • you must be a New Zealand resident or citizen and have been in New Zealand for a continuous period of 12 months at any time
  • a New Zealand tax resident
  • you must have an IRD number for the child you will get Best Start payments for
  • the child you are claiming for is both a resident and present in New Zealand.

How do I apply for Best Start?

You apply for Best Start when you register your baby's birth through "Register your Baby" on the SmartStart website or by completing the Working for Families Tax Credits registration (FS1) form. You will be able to apply from June but payments won't start until after 1 July.

We need the following information to process your application:

  • the full name, address, contact details and IRD number of principal caregiver 
  • your living situation including any shared custody
  • whether you are an existing Working for Families customer
  • whether you are getting or intending to receive paid parental leave payments  
  • your tax residency status
  • your bank account details.

Without this information there will be delays in processing your application.  

Extension to paid parental leave

Paid parental leave is extending from 18 weeks to 22 weeks from 1 July 2018. This also includes an increase in "Keeping in Touch" hours from 40 hours to 52.

Find out more about paid parental leave

If your baby is due on or after 1 July 2018 but late or early, you may also be eligible for 22 weeks paid parental leave. Please call us and let us know your baby's birth date.   

Working for Families tax credits

A higher payment rate and widening of the eligible income range is being introduced from 1 July 2018. These changes include:

Annual rate of family tax credit 1 April 2018 1 July 2018
Eldest child 16 to 18 $5,303 $5,878
Eldest child 0 to 15 $4,822
Next child 16 to 18 $4,745 $4,745
Next child 13 to 15 $3,822
Next child 0 to 12 $3,351
Working for Families abatement rate 22.5% 25%
Working for Families eligible income threshold $36,350 $42,700

If you're an existing Working for Families customer and affected by the changes, you will receive a Notice of Entitlement in June telling you your new payment amount.

If you think you are eligible from 1 July 2018 due to the changes in the income eligibility range, you will need to complete a Working for Families Tax Credits registration (FS1) form.

Find out more about Working for Families tax credits

Other Families Package changes

You can fnd more information on the Work and Income website on:

  • the Winter Energy Payment
  • Orphan's Benefit
  • Unsupported Child's Benefit 
  • Foster Care Allowance
  • the accommodation supplement and benefits.