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'Deliberate and calculated': IRD blasts woman in Working For Families $141k fraud

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 30 Jan 2024, 2:12PM
Photo/NZ Herald
Photo/NZ Herald

'Deliberate and calculated': IRD blasts woman in Working For Families $141k fraud

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 30 Jan 2024, 2:12PM

A West Auckland woman has been sentenced after nearly a decade of family tax fraud in where she falsely claimed she had 11 children to get government assistance.

Phyllis Kiritehanga Kathleen Tipene was found guilty of knowingly providing false information and banking $141,973 in tax credits in a ruse Inland Revenue described as “deliberate and calculated”.

Last week in the Waitakere District Court she was sentenced to eight months’ home detention.

Tipene faced 17 representative charges of knowingly providing false information to get tax credits which she knew she was not entitled to. She was charged along with a man who is due to be sentenced in May.

The court heard that between 2013 and 2022 she was claiming tax credits for at least 11 children that were recorded as being in her care.

The entitlements for the Working for Families Tax Credit scheme are based on the family’s annual income and circumstances. It is in place to assist low-income homes with children under the age of 18.

The judge told Tipene her type of offending hurt society at large and the public because it damaged the integrity of the system.

“The integrity of the tax system relies on everybody being honest, and when people aren’t it comes back to the public to cover that through taxes,” the judge said.

“So, everyone loses at the end of the day.”

An Inland Revenue spokesperson said this was not a “one-off mistake but deliberate and calculated offending over a nine-year period”.

Tipene’s difficult life was taken into account during the sentencing but the seriousness of the offence given the “large amount of money involved” and the impacts on the integrity of the tax system was also noted.

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