A woman has been arrested at Auckland Airport for failing to pay off her student loan debt, new reports show.
The New Zealand Herald reported that the New Zealand woman visited her sick mother in New Zealand when she was arrested on Friday while trying to fly to the United States, and spent the weekend in jail before appearing in court on Monday.
A spokesperson for the New Zealand tax administration confirmed that the arrest had taken place, but did not give further details.
“The best advice we can give to borrowers based abroad is to pay any outstanding amount,” the spokesperson said.
“If that is not possible, we encourage borrowers to tell us about their situation. Our staff are always ready to help and we have a variety of relief options available to help manage repayments for those in difficult circumstances. “
Student advocates have taken to radio stations to criticize Inland Revenue for its actions, which they say make borrowers “student loan refugees.”
According to the NZ Herald, around 70 percent of foreign borrowers are in Australia, and the Australian Taxation Office is now sharing information with the New Zealand government to identify them.
New Zealand student loan arrests
Overseas student loan borrowers are required to make minimum repayments based on their student loan balance to avoid late penalties.
For a loan between $ 1,000 and $ 15,000, the minimum repayment is two payments of $ 500 twice a year. The repayment amount increases for larger loans.
Laws introduced in 2014 gave the New Zealand tax department the power to seek arrest warrants for student loan debtors attempting to leave the country, but this was seen as a policy of ‘last resort’.
Since the 2014 laws came into effect, nine arrests have been made and only $ 230,000 in overdue student loan debt has been collected, according to the figures.
Are you traveling abroad with student loan debt?
Although Australia does not have an arrest policy, if you are an Australian with student loan debt and are planning to move overseas, the ATO has warned that those debts will not go away. not.
“Moving abroad does not cancel student loan debts and your repayment obligations do not change with your address. Current laws give us the power to pursue these debts abroad,” said the deputy commissioner of the ATO, Karen Foat.
This means expats with HELP or HECS debts can expect to be contacted and under the new rules Australians with income-based loans must notify the ATO of their new address and file a travel notification. abroad.
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