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Family tax credit fraud lands woman home detention

An Auckland woman was sentenced to home detention on charges spanning nine years, involving false claims for Working for Families Tax credits (WfFTC) for 11 children.

Phyllis Kiritehanga Kathleen Tipene faced 17 representative charges, along with a man who is still to be sentenced, of knowingly providing false information to get tax credits which she knew she was not entitled to.

She was sentenced to eight months home detention when she appeared in the Waitakere District Court on January 25th.

Between 2013 and 2022, Tipene claimed she had at least 11 different children recorded in her care for whom she claimed tax credits.

The Working for Families Tax Credit scheme was set up to help low-income families with children under the age of 18 years. The entitlements are based on the family’s annual income and family circumstances.

In a sentencing indication, a Judge told Tipene this type of offending hurts society at large, the public, because it damages the integrity of the system. The Judge said the integrity of the tax system relies on everybody being honest, and when people aren’t it comes back to the public to cover that through taxes. “So, everyone loses at the end of the day.”

Inland Revenue told the court the offending was not a one-off mistake but deliberate and calculated offending over a 9-year period.

The Judge acknowledged the difficult life the defendant had from an early age but noted the seriousness of her offending given the large amount of money involved ($141,973.14) and its impacts on society and the integrity of the tax system.

Her co-defendant, who she is jointly charged with, will appear for sentence in May.

Last updated: 29 Jan 2024
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