Your first job

Picture of a young woman at work

What you need to do

The first thing you need to do is to find out whether you need to pay income tax. This depends if you're working for salary or wages, or if you're a contractor.

If you're a primary or secondary school student only doing occasional work (such as mowing lawns for a neighbour) you generally won't need to pay any tax as long as you're earning less than $45 a week ($2,340 annually) from all your jobs.

However, if you're working for salary or wages from an employer, you'll have tax taken directly from your wages as Pay as you Earn (PAYE). A contractor is a different type of worker and their tax can be deducted by the person paying them or they may pay the tax themselves. To find our whether you're a salary or wage earner or a contractor, have a look at the guidelines for each in our publication Self-employed or an employee? (IR336).

If you're a salary or wage earner, you'll need to:

While it's your responsibility to choose the correct tax code, if you choose the wrong one, we'll write to your employer, requesting them to change it to the correct code.

If you disagree with this change, you can call us on 0800 227 774.

What your employer will do if you earn salary or wages

Your employer will work out how much to take out of your pay, but if you want to, you can calculate the amount yourself, by using the appropriate tax rates.

If you are 18 or over, you'll automatically be enrolled in KiwiSaver. Your employer will deduct KiwiSaver contributions, starting with your first pay. You then have the next eight weeks to decide if KiwiSaver is right for you.

If you're under 18 and want to join KiwiSaver, you'll need to opt in directly with a scheme provider.

Your employer will deduct student loan repayments from your main job whenever you earn more than the pay period repayment threshold (external link) , or if you have a secondary job, from each dollar you earn.

If you have a student loan

You need to use a tax code that includes the "SL" repayment code, so your employer knows when to deduct student loan repayments.

Find out more about repaying your student loan (external link)

If you're a contractor receiving income from schedular payments, you'll need to:

While you're able to choose your own tax rate, if we think the rate is incorrect, eg, below the minimum rate allowed, we may write to your payer requesting them to change the rate.

What your payer will do if you are a contractor

Your payer will work out how much to deduct based on the rate you've asked them to use.

Your payer won't deduct from your payments:

  • KiwiSaver - you'll need to opt in directly with a scheme provider, or
  • student loan repayments - you'll need to make these payments yourself.

If you're a contractor receiving self-employed income you'll need to pay your own tax. Find out more about tax on self-employed income (external link)

At the end of the year

The income year ends on 31 March, so at the beginning of April there are some other things you need to do:

In May, the summary of earnings information is available, so you can:

If you decide that you don't want to deal with us directly, you can always nominate a person to deal with your tax affairs for you.

How will this affect you?

Check out Real lives to see:

  • Melanie's story - she's about to start college and has found her first part-time job
  • John's story - he's still at school, and needs to claim a tax credit for his part-time job.