Compound share

Should couples be able to “share” their KiwiSaver contributions so that women aren’t left behind?

Rupert Carlyon, founder of the Kōura Wealth KiwiSaver program, says KiwiSaver's gender inequality must be addressed.

Provided

Rupert Carlyon, founder of the Kōura Wealth KiwiSaver program, says KiwiSaver’s gender inequality must be addressed.

Kōura Wealth started a KiwiSaver Parity Project to get politicians to make changes to KiwiSaver that she says would help couples and help close the gender savings gap.

Provider KiwiSaver has launched a petition calling on Parliament to change the KiwiSaver Act to allow couples to share their contributions, which it says could help tackle gender inequality in retirement.

Allowing voluntary “contribution splitting” would allow couples to equalize their contributions to their separate KiwiSaver accounts, which should help reduce the impact on the retirement savings of lower-wage women and the impact on saves people who take the time to raise children, he said. .

Chief Executive Rupert Carlyon said Te Ara Ahunga Ora. The Pensions Commission reported earlier this year that the average KiwiSaver balance for women was 20% lower than for men.

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The report also states that 39% of women believe they have a KiwiSaver balance of less than $10,000, compared to 26% of men.

Carlyon said he can see the impact of KiwiSaver gender inequality in savings balances, but also in his own household, with his wife Olivia Barton.

“Olivia has a KiwiSaver balance that’s less than 40% of mine,” he said.

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“It’s because of the pay differences, but more importantly it’s because she took time off to care for our three children and now works part-time to help manage our busy family life.

“I recognize that we are in a privileged position because Olivia can work part-time, but the question is why should she be penalized when the fact that she is away for maternity and childcare is very beneficial to both of us?

Taking a year of parental leave is expected to cost the average KiwiSaver member $5,100 to an individual’s KiwiSaver balance, based on a salary of $80,000 per year for a 35-year-old male.

That could be up to $16,000 by the time they hit age 65, and the cost would be higher for people who have been off for more than a year, Carlyon said.

The commission suggested a KiwiSaver “care credit” for people who take time off from work to care for others or raise children, but the government has ruled it out.

The sharing of contributions would be voluntary, he said.

This would not only benefit women, but also men who took time off from work to raise children, he said.

Carlyon considered the contribution-splitting scheme after it was taxed at source, meaning couples using it would pay no less tax.

Couples should be taxed at the household level on their combined income, but that was not part of Kōura’s contribution splitting plan, he said.

Australia has already allowed contribution sharing for couples, Carlyon said.

“It is not new, nor new.

“Right now we’re not doing it because the overall system is unfair, and that’s not good enough. We want an outpouring of support for this petition to bring about change and bring fairness and retirement freedom for all,” he said.