TODAY |

Man with Down syndrome turns down donation offers, just wants early access to KiwiSaver

Within minutes of his story going to air on 1 NEWS last night, a generous member of the public offered to help fund a trip to Italy for a man with Down Syndrome – a gesture which was appreciated but declined with thanks.

Tim Fairhall, 39, wants to use his KiwiSaver to visit his brother overseas while he's still in good health, but is unable to do so under current guidelines.

"Thank you for being so nice but this is my money," Mr Fairhall said.

His mother and carer, Joan Fairhall, said, "It's his. He's saved it and as soon as we can get access it, we can start planning the trip of his lifetime".

By the time Mr Fairhall is able to access the money at age 65, he will be "the equivalent of about 90", she said.

The family's call to allow Mr Fairhall to access to his KiwiSaver funds before his health deteriorates is supported by one of the country's leading tax experts.

Geof Nightingale, a PWC tax partner, says there are solutions, including simply widening the current KiwiSaver exemptions.

"Those regulations would be perhaps recommended by a minister - maybe in conjunction with the Retirement Commissioner - and that might say, 'Here's a special class of case we hadn't thought about that might allow for an early withdrawal,'" Mr Nightingale said.

The Government responded, saying, "KiwiSaver on the whole is working well and doing what it's designed to".

However, minister Kris Faafoi says that doesn't mean he is unsympathetic to Mr Fairhall's situation - or that there are no changes or improvements which can be made.

Mr Faafoi says he will respond to a letter he has received from Mr Fairhall's mother, and adds that the terms of reference for a three-yearly review of retirement income policies will be set by early December.

"We don't need any contributions, we don't need Give a Little or anything like that - we just need to be able to access his KiwiSaver," Ms Fairhall said.

Members of the public have offered money to help Tim Fairhall travel to visit his brother after access to his KiwiSaver money was denied. Source: 1 NEWS