Cooks government not trying to bankrupt pensioners

The Cook Islands finance secretary says the government isn't trying to bankrupt pensioners by enforcing tax laws surrounding their collection of New Zealand superannuation.

Richard Neves says a law requiring retirees to pay tax on their New Zealand pensions has been in place for some years.

But he says under a compliance programme the government has only recently acquired a full list of New Zealand pensioners living in the country.

The newly-formed Cook Islands Grey Power says its members now owe thousands of dollars in back taxes but Mr Neves says there is no intention to make anyone broke.

"We ask everyone to come into the office, talk it through, talk through the situation, let's get people into the tax system and paying their taxes as they should be and if there are arrears that have been assessed, we'll work through those with the taxpayer with something that's mutually agreeable."

Richard Neves says if the Cook Islands government doesn't tax the pensions the New Zealand government can.

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