Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Child support and teen Dads

I'm writing a belated post about this article from Sunday because there seems to be some confusion over liability.

One rogue 19-year-old is a liable father to 13 kids to different mums.
A source has confirmed the man is named on the birth certificates of 13 children, and is liable to pay child support for them.
Figures released by the Inland Revenue Department show 943 teenage fathers were liable to pay child support at the end of last year. Some were just 15 years old, and already liable for two children.

If this liable teenage father does exist he will be assessed for 13 x $16.30 weekly, the minimum, or $$211.90 in total. With that kind of liability going on for the next 18 plus years he may well have skipped the country and become one of the many the Australian government are now trying to chase - or was that student loans?

In any discussion about the merits or otherwise of child support I inevitably come back to the DPB.

Couples will always split or divorce and courts have always ordered maintenance be paid by the father (or occasionally) mother of any dependent children. That's fair. That morphed into today's child support (around 1991-2). Some couples negotiate the payment privately. Some choose to involve the state and subsequently, there is a good deal of argument over whether the current assessment formula is fair.

But for those fathers supporting a child being raised on the DPB from birth, fathers who were never in an ongoing relationship with the mother; who were never told about the pregnancy, had no opportunity to discuss what to do about it; who may have been knowingly used to provide a child/meal ticket - I am very uncomfortable about their liability. Yes, they are responsible to a point but if the DPB didn't exist, the mothers wouldn't have been using them or making the decision which leads to their 18 year liability.  Let's put it another way. A female finds herself pregnant. She knows if she has the child she will get an income equivalent to the minimum age and a home. She can get it from the state on the condition (and even this is easy enough to get around) she names the father so he can pay some probably pathetic amount to the taxpayer. And it usually is a trifling amount because of the socio-economic group these children are generally produced from.

Get rid of this gaming and a good deal of the child support problems disappear.

(BTW I have no idea why, according to the article, "welfare workers were shocked". There are always a few thousand teenagers on the DPB at any given. It's not surprising at least some of the fathers of those children would be teen Dads. Throw in another known fact - male Sole-Maori identifiers are three and a half times more likely to have a partner pregnant by age twenty than non Maori - and none of this is surprising).


Anonymous said...

For a woman to access the welfare system she needs live sperm -not condoms, and this young man was giving them what they wanted. I have no doubt that many "mums" tell the guys they are on the pill to dupe the bloke into being an unwitting donor. Sperm donors should not have to pay maintenance, just as they don't have a say in the woman's option of abortion. Welfare rewards the most irresponsible behavior imaginable and penalizes the responsible with taxes -all for a shit outcome anyway.

Johnny said...

This Inland Revenue page tends to suggest that neither of us is correct in respect of multiple kids:


Personally, I'd be more interested to know how much the total national liable parent contribution is for work and income kids, and how much it costs to administer this revenue.

I bet as a tax, it was worse than the percentages for the original broadcasting fee when it was ditched as a bad unpopular expensive tax (thanks Muriel Newman for your pivotal role in getting it ditched).

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Johnny, I believe my understanding is correct.

New rules are coming into force in April. If you can interpret all this you are doing better than me. But the new rules advisory states:

"At present, there is a minimum annual rate that a liable parent must pay, regardless of the number of children to whom the liability relates. In order to retain this concept, new section 30 provides that, if the sum of the amounts of child support payable in respect of each of a liable parent’s children is less than the minimum amount, the parent must pay the minimum amount."


Lindsay Mitchell said...

Then again, on second reading of linked material my interpretation is probably wrong...

Regarding your other interest, the DPB bill is generally offset to no more than 10% of liable parent contributions.

In 2008 $136 million went into the consolidated fund to offset the $1,530 million DPB bill.

Johnny said...

And in 1996 from memory, the original Broadcasting Fee generated a similar amount - a bit of change over $100 million. It was costing over $25 million to collect it. And it got dumped as being far too much of an administrative burden on us all for the relatively paltry sum involved.

Any tax system has an administrative burden, so there are both direct and indirect costs of collecting each $16 per week. Each $16 probably costs $20 to collect.

Aside from the financials, any tax has societal costs. I suggest the personal strains that this tax visits on those who are down and out anyway, are stupid. I would go so far as to suggest that they lead to criminality, even if the criminality is only breaking the associated tax laws.

The $136 million probably costs $50 million to collect. That makes it a bad tax. In our $75 billion consolidated revenue account, it is a paltry amount, compared to the (a) the cost of collecting it; and (b) the societal costs.

By the way, if any minor party wants to immediately increase its poll ratings, all they have to do is announce today, a nationwide ban on collection of dog registration fees. Do you see my drift. And if a major party wants to decrease its polling, announce that cat/rabbit/parrot registration fees will be introduced next year. See how long that lasts.

The liable parent contribution part of child support, is stupid for New Zealand. [And as I have mentioned before, I don't have a personal stake in this issue]

Johnny said...

Put it another way.

Single parenthood rewards the mum, but it penalises the other parent, the dad.

They both rooted after all. One rooter is rewarded for 18 years, one penalised for 18 years. Nuts.

Totally nuts.