14 Oct 2013

Changes to KiwiSaver tax treatment mooted

7:36 pm on 14 October 2013

An organisation representing life insurance companies is seeking changes to the KiwiSaver regime and its tax treatment in a bid to boost retirement incomes.

Financial Services Council chief executive Peter Nielson said the tax system favoured investment in residential property over other forms of long-term saving.

New Zealand had probably the most hostile tax environment for long-term savings, Mr Nielson said.

As well, people were defaulting into low-risk but also low return options if they were a default KiwiSaver member, and there were issues around such things as the position of women who often spent more time out of the workforce than men.

"So they can't make the same level of contributions. How do we deal with those issues to make sure women don't end up in retirement without a comfortable retirement," he said.

Much of the annual $740 million in KiwiSaver incentives was used by people not saving seriously for retirement, he said.

"If we were able to use that money better we could make sure that those people who are struggling to save would be able to put more money into KiwiSaver, not have to spend as much to actually get a good retirement income, and we would be better off by doing that."

Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce says finance companies get higher fees out of more aggressive growth funds, and the rest of the world might take a more conservative view towards retirement savings.