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Rates Rebate Scheme

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Questions and Answers


Here are the answers to questions we are commonly asked by Territorial Authorities about rates rebates. Use the links below to shortcut to the questions you are interested in. If you have a question which has not been answered on this page please email info@ratesrebates.govt.nz

Rates Rebate forms and publicity material

Processing claims

The IT system for processing claims

Support for Territorial Authorities

General queries

Income related queries


Rates Rebate forms and publicity material

When will the new rebate application forms be available?

Currently we are delaying printing of the application forms pending the outcome of the Local Government Law Reform Bill, which we expect to be enacted in June. However, should the Bill fail to go through In June we will proceed to print with alternative wording, ensuring the forms are recieved before Territorial Authorities send out their rates notices.


Can ratepayers use the old application forms for rebates in the 2006/07 rating year?


No, ratepayers must use the new application forms.


Does the Department of Internal Affairs plan any publicity to promote the Rates Rebate Scheme?

We will be providing articles to the Grey Power magazine and community newspapers. We have also sent a supply of brochures promoting changes to the Rates Rebate Scheme to each Territorial Authority.


Do Territorial Authorities have to use Department of Internal Affairs paper application forms or can we print the electronic claim form?

Yes you can print the electronic form, which will be available on this website and in the SOLGM rates rebate module. Note: The content and format of the application form must not be altered.

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Processing claims

Does the Department require Territorial Authorities to process rebate payment in a lump sum or by instalments?

The Department will only process a claim once and will refund the amount claimed as a rebate to the Territorial Authority in a single lump sum. Territorial authorities can decide whether they want to refund the rebate as a lump sum or apportion it.


Is there a minimum cut-off for the reate rebate e.g. can ratepayers claim a $1 rebate?

At the moment there is no cut-off, so in theory a rebate of 1 cent can be claimed. The Department is seeking legal advice as to whether a minimum claimable amount can be instituted.


Will Territorial Authorities get an indication of which claims in a batch have not been accepted by the Department?

Yes you will get an indication of which claims have not been accepted. The batch totals (number of claims, amount claimed) will also be available to Territorial Authorities.


Can the Department indicate what a realistic number of claims to put in a batch is?

The Rates Rebate Module in the SOLGM Legal Compliance website suggests 10-100 claims in a batch. The Department's system will not impose a limit of 100 but we would expect that Territorial Authorities would follow the advice in the module.


If Territorial Authorities have a claim rejected by the Department, do Territorial Authorities edit it in the same batch or re-submit the claim in the next batch?

You will need to re-submit such claims in the next batch.


What will be the tolerance levels for rounding for rebate calculations i.e. what if there are small differences between rebate amounts calculated by Territorial Authorities versus the Department's calculator?

The Department is determining what the appropriate levels of rounding “tolerance” amounts should be both at Claim level and Batch level. We will build this functionality into our IT systems.


Is the application number unique for each Territorial Authority?

The Application (“Claim”) Number will be in three parts. A prefix (TLA Number- 5 digits) + a 6 digit sequential number (unique to each TA for a rating year) + a suffix YY of rating year. Territorial Authorities will not be able to use the same application number twice in the same year. This is specified in detail in the
Interface Specifications.

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The IT system for processing claims

Can the Department's IT Module include financial summaries showing transaction details for the Territorial Authority financial systems?

No. The Department IT Module will show the rebate amount and date paid, but it is not intended to be used for generating financial or accounting system entries.


Some Territorial Authorities numbers have an extra four digits on the end of the QV unique property identifier (QPID) – can this complete number be used?

Our objective in proposing a unique property identifier is to reduce (ideally eliminate) the incidence of ratepayers claiming a rebate on the same property more than once a year.

This can be achieved by having a unique property identifier for each property within a Territorial Authorities jurisdiction - and if there is a potential "duplicate" rebate claim flagged by the system, then the Department will be checking more closely. Since Territorial Authoritiess appear to use QPID or VRN differently (or sometimes not at all) we are proposing to use a unique property identifier for each Territorial Authority by obtaining a unique reference from a TA and prefixing this with a TA number (based on the QV TLA Number). This serves our purposes for rating rebates adequately. It is then up to Territorial Authorities to determine which unique identifier they want to use.

The Department will allowTerritorial Authorities to have a Unique Property Identifier. Territorial Authorities are strongly encouraged to ensure this number is unique for each property. One candidate for this unique identifier is the QPID but TAs may choose to use their Ratepayer Identification number.


If a property has several occupants contributing to rates payment, how will TAs be able to identify this in the IT system?

The Department will allow for a suffix to be added by Territorial Authorities to cater for this situation.


Some Territorial Authorities expect to grant rebates in the first few weeks of July. When will the Deparment's IT Solution be ready?

The Department expects to have the IT system in place by the first week of August, but will be endeavouring to bring this date forward. Our working assumption has been that the first rates statements will be posted to ratepayers in mid to late July with a month to pay, and that the first batch of claims to DIA will be received in early August.


Can Territorial Authorities have more than one person entering claims and batches concurrently?

Yes the system allows for multiple users to enter data related to claims and batches concurrently.


Can Territorial Authorities send the batch of claims to the Department using CSV files?

No, Territorial Authorities have to use XML format files to submit claims inline with eGovernment guidelines.


Is the Department intending to allow for a sufficient period for testing jointly with Territorial Authorities?

Yes the Department will be performing extensive testing internally but has also scheduled 3-4 weeks of integration testing with Territorial Authorities. We look forward to working with you and your IT Providers to perform this testing.


Can Territorial Authorities use a System-to-System (or “Machine-to-machine”) approach for transferring claims instead of manually uploading their files?

Yes, option 2b allows Territorial Authorities to build their systems to use the machine-to-machine approach. For more information see our
Interface Specifications.


If Territorial Authorities IT service providers are not ready on time, can they initially use the IT soloution option 1 and later switch to option 2?

Yes. Territorial Authorities can use either system and swap from one to the other, but you will be only able to use one of the options at any point in time. Territorial Authorities need to let the Department know if they want to switch options.


Can a claim be suspended so it can be revisited?
The Department had not considered a suspend facility for claims. We will look into enhancing our IT system to allow Territorial Authorities to suspend claims.

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Support for Territorial Authorities

Could the Department provide Territorial Authorities with information on the estimated number of ratepayers eligible for rebates in the 2006/07 year?

Yes, we have done some analysis to estimate the number of ratepayers who will be eligible for a rebate in the 2006/07 year.

The Department's analysis uses 2001 census data so the estimates are supplied with a number of proviso's – the data is 5 years old and over that time the population is ageing (increasing the number of superuanuitants) while at the same time incomes have risen pushing some people over or further away from the income threshold. The Department will provide up-to-date analysis once 2006 census results are available.


When will the new Rates Rebate Handbooks be available?

The new handbooks will be delivered to Territorial Authorities in June. The Department is intending to email this to Territorial Authorities in PDF format so we can continue to send you up-to-date versions as the handbook is updated.


Will DIA provide more information and training TAs regarding processing requirements to Territorial Authorities?

Yes. Regional Seminars dealing with the new process, handbook and legal requirements are proposed to start in late June. Locations for these seminars are:
Auckland, Whangarei, Hamilton, Rotorua,
New Plymouth, Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington, Greymouth, Nelson, Christchurch, Timaru and Gore.

Territorial Authorities are strongly encouraged to send their processing personnel to these regional seminars. The Department will be in touch with more details of dates and venues.


Does DIA intend to maintain current performance standards for payment processing?

Yes the Department will continue to acknowledge receipt within 5 days and refund the rebate within 20 days. If it appears that there may be delays because of new processes or the significant increase in claim numbers, then the Department will inform Territorial Authorities. There is also an option in the Act for the Department to pay money in advance of claims being approved.


Will DIA provide administrative ('Help Desk') type support for technical problems with uploads, password resets etc?

Yes, the Department will provide administrative support, we will be in touch with more details.

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General Queries

What happens if an applicant sells their property (on which a rebate has been claimed) during the year? Is the rebate determined based on a unique place of residence as at a certain date - and is it able to be only given once during a rating year?

Section 3(1A) of the Rates Rebates Act deals with the situation of a ratepayer of a residential property who moves to another residential property during the rating year. In such a case the ratepayer is entitled to a rebate based on the total of the rates they are responsible for paying during the year. The amount of the rebate must be apportioned according to the amount of time the applicant was the ratepayer in respect of each residential property during the rating year.

The Rates Rebate Handbook and the SOLGM Legal Compliance website will contain guidance about dealing with such situations.



How do Territorial Authorites provide details of water charges where usage is not known in advance?

Section 5(4) of the Rates Rebate Act provides that water charges can be estimated based on usage in the previous year.


Can ratepayers claim Rebates for prior years rates?

No, retrospective rates rebates are no longer permitted. If Territorial Authorities have already granted retrospective rebates, then the Department will honour these. We would like Territorial Authorities to send these retrospective claims through as soon as possible, preferably before June 7th.

Note: From 1 July, retrospective claims will not be accepted - applications for a rebate will have to be made in the year that they are made. This was a clarification made in the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002 - Territorial Authorities need to ensure that copies of the Act they use for reference are up todate and include amendments. The Department has asked the Parliamentary Council Office to reprint the Act - this will depend on legislative priorities and will definately not happen until after the next Amendment has gone through.

The Department will send out information to ensure everyone is up to date. We will also ensure that information bulletins and articles make it clear that retrospective claims cannot be made.


On the first page of the application form it says you can apply if 'your name is not on bill but you pay some of the rates’. Does that mean people who are not ratepayers can claim a rebate?

No, you have to be a ratepayer. This information is for the situation of owners of owner-occupier flats who contribute towards the outgoings for a property of which the flat forms part. In such a situation, before applying for a rebate, an owner must obtain a letter from the ratepayer named on the rates notice specifying how much their rates portion is. This process is dealt with in more detail in section 7 of the rates Rebate Act. Subsection (6) defines the term “owner-occupier flat”. This issue will be dealt with in more detail in the handbook and SOLGM Legal Compliance module.


What is the situation with regards to rebates for people in retirement villages?

There are a number of different types of ownership and occupancy arrangements for retirement villages. Where occupants are not ratepayers (or would be covered by the owner-occupier flat arrangement outlined above) they are not eligible for rebates.

The Department is reviewing the issue of rates rebates for retirement villages and will report to the Government on this later in 2006.


Is there a limit on number of dependants that may be included in application?

No, there is no limit. The Local Government (Rating) Act also does not differentiate between different types of dependants.

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Income related queries

What process applies if applicant’s income increases after a rebate is approved?

This situation does not affect the rebate. The Rates Rebate Act provides that the applicant's income for the year ending on the 31 March preceding the start of the current rating year is used to determine the rebate value.


Do TAs need to send a GST invoice with the claims?

We are seeking clarification on this issue. We will provide advice as soon as possbile.


Territorial Authorities face operational issues with asking IRD or WINZ for verification of income. Are IRD & WINZ aware that they may be a large number of inquiries? What is the best approach towards this?

There may be room in the Act to look at a more flexible approach as to what is acceptable practice for income verification. This will be addressed by the Department in our guidelines, we are currently discussing this issue with IRD and WINZ.


A number of new immigrants who have no income as such, but have significant capital and assets have applied for rebates. Are they eligible for rebates? Do you have to be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident to be entitled to a rebate?

The Rates Rebate Act states that eligibility is on the basis of income not capital or assets - all property owners (not just citizens or residents) are eligible.


Do Territorial Authorities need to obtain a verification of income statement?

No, the applicant has to declare their income in the application and there is an obligation on the applicant to supply correct information (see section 11(1) of the Rates Rebate Act). However, section 5(6) provides that “the chief executive of the territorial authority or any other authorised officer shall not be under any obligation to verify the accuracy of any statement as to [an applicant’s] income …”. This matter will be dealt further in guidelines to be issued.

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Last updated: 12/06/2006