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Inland Revenue

Tax Policy

Chapter 5 - Community services card

5.1 The purpose of the community services card is to assist low-income families and individuals with some of their costs of health care, by providing cheaper access to certain health care (such as prescriptions if the cardholder does not belong to a Primary Health Organisation, after-hours doctor visits and visits to a doctor who is not the cardholder’s regular doctor).

Current income tests

5.2 To identify low-income individuals, the community services card uses multiple tests of eligibility.

5.3 For families with dependent children who receive WFF tax credits, the community services card rules refers to the definition of “family scheme income” as a basis for determining eligibility. A further adjustment is made to add-on the amount of WFF tax credits received, and then eligibility is measured against income thresholds. The income thresholds reflect family size.

5.4 Beneficiaries qualify automatically. Income thresholds apply for other groups. The income test for superannuitants refers to taxable income with adjustments made for overseas income, private pensions and annuities. Students and people without dependent children must meet an income test based on the Social Security Act 1964 definition of income.

Proposed new definition of “family scheme income”

5.5 Any proposed changes in chapter 3 to the definition of “family scheme income” would apply to families with dependent children who receive WFF tax credits. These changes would automatically affect their eligibility for the community services card.

5.6 The remaining criteria for the community services card, including the income tests for superannuitants, students and people without dependent children, would remain unchanged.

When would the new definition apply from?

5.7 Currently, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) administers the community services card. Inland Revenue provides information on families receiving WFF tax credits directly to MSD through an information data-match arrangement. This enables MSD to determine eligibility for this group.

5.8 The new definition of “family scheme income” would similarly be provided through this data-match. The existing process for applications and approval would remain unchanged.

5.9 Therefore, the proposed definition would come into place from 1 April 2011 at the same time as for WFF tax credits. It would apply to all new applications and all reapplications for the community services card from 1 April 2011. Existing cards would continue to be valid until the date of their expiry.

Submission point

Are there any concerns with the proposed new definition of family scheme income being used for families applying for the community services card?