INDEPENDENT NEWS

Student loans amnesty to bring home thousands

Published: Fri 19 Nov 1999 03:46 PM
The Alliance announced today an amnesty on penalties for unpaid student loan debts for those who have fled overseas to escape the student loans scheme.
'Thousands of our youngest and brightest students have fled overseas with huge student loans to escape one of the most oppressive student loans schemes in the western world,' Alliance leader Jim Anderton said.
'I would like New Zealanders overseas who want to serve their country under a new innovative government to send me their ideas for development together with their CVs. We want to help some of New Zealand's brightest people come back to New Zealand.
'In the last year the number of students who have told the IRD they are going overseas has jumped 56% from 4,713 to 7,683, a 63% increase.
'And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Many thousands of other students have not notified the IRD they have left the country and have simply left without filing a tax return.
'The average student loan debt for those overseas is $14,089, or 21% more than the average debt for those in New Zealand.
'At least $101 million is owed by students who have fled the country.
'Students who do not file a tax return are liable for fines of 2% per month on the amount owed. The cost of doing will be more than made up by attracting bright young New Zealanders back to their own country.
'The Alliance wants these students to come back. We will waive the penalty interest accrued by students who have failed to file a tax return so that there is no financial barrier to their return to New Zealand.
'The amnesty will be fiscally neutral at worst, or of incalculable benefit at best, as these bright young New Zealanders come home and contribute to our nation again.
'The amnesty will also apply to students who have failed to file a tax return in New Zealand and those who have failed to notify the IRD they were going overseas.
'We will also wipe the interest on the student loans debt. This move coupled with a reduction in fees and universal student allowances will get rid of the student debt problem once and for all,' Jim Anderton said.
Visit http://www.alliance.org.nz for more information about the Alliance

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