Govt's new initiative makes tracking down student loan borrowers in Aus easier

Author
Felix Marwick, Frances Cook,
Publish Date
Tue, 1 Nov 2016, 6:52PM
(Getty Images).

Govt's new initiative makes tracking down student loan borrowers in Aus easier

Author
Felix Marwick, Frances Cook,
Publish Date
Tue, 1 Nov 2016, 6:52PM

The tax man is tracking down student loan borrowers overseas, but still can't force anyone to pay until they're back in New Zealand.

LISTEN ABOVE: Tertiary education minister Steven Joyce spoke with Chris Lynch

Thanks to a new information sharing agreement between New Zealand and Australia, the IRD now has the names and contact details for over 10,000 borrowers living in Australia.

Minister of Revenue Michael Woodhouse said the identification of those addresses is a very good start.

"What I do know is they were very cautious to make sure that the data that lined up was able to identify people with a high degree of certainty."

Mr Woodhouse said the next step is to make contact with them, and if there are any mismatches they can be addressed at that point.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said the Australian Tax Office won't be arresting anyone on our behalf.

"The extent of the arrangement is sharing the information and Inland Revenue has a range of ways of going about it. Contacting the people, debt collectors, if necessary court judgments, and of course arrests across the border if that's what's required."

Mr Joyce said there's no doubt some people are staying overseas to avoid their student loan, and this should bring an end to that.

"What this will make clear to them is that they need to get on and pay back their student loans so we can use that money for other students. It doesn't actually matter whether you are off shore or not. You will get followed up and you will get found over time."

Mr Woodhouse said six warrants have been issued for defaulters and three have been arrested at the border so far.

"Their circumstances have been recently widely canvassed and I think in every situation there's been accommodation arranged."