Secondary tax codes in New Zealand

If you have more than one source of income, and tax is deducted from that income, then you will need a secondary tax code. Your primary tax code only covers your main source of income.

Some may feel that it is unfair they may be taxed at a higher rate on a second income, however those living in New Zealand are taxed on a progressive scale. This means that if it weren’t for secondary tax codes, you may receive an unexpected tax bill at the end of the year.

For example, if your income from each employer was around $30,000, each employer would deduct the correct tax amount namely 17.5%. However, the sum total of income is $60,000, which places you in a different tax bracket as your total earnings exceed 48K. The Inland Revenue would then seek the shortfall.

The current tax thresholds are:

Income Tax Rate
$0 – $14,000 10.5%
$14,001 – $48,000 17.5%
$48,001- $70,000 30%
$70,001+ 33%

How do I find out what secondary tax code applies to me?

You can find out your code by using the IRD’s online secondary tax tool or the table below.


Annual Income Secondary Tax Code Is Normally… But If You Have A Student Loan, Use
$14,000 or less SB SB SL – see “Note” below
between $14,001 and $48,000 S S SL – see “Note” below
between $48,001 and $70,000 SH SH SL
over $70,000 ST ST SL


Further information on the notes can be found on the source IRD page.

Problems you may encounter with Secondary Tax

Most of the time, you will pay the right tax if you’re using the correct secondary code. Problems with over and underestimation can occur when someone crosses one of the tax thresholds.

List of special tax codes in New Zealand

If you get a nasty surprise in the form of a large, unexpected tax bill at the end of the tax year, you might want to apply for a special tax code and rate. Special tax codes are typically used when you face an atypical tax situation.

These include:

  • A second job
  • Another form of secondary income
  • An overseas pension
  • A rental property or other revenue generating investment
  • A contractor receiving schedular payments

The special tax codes in use in New Zealand include:

  • SB – used for student loans
  • S – used if your annual income from all jobs is between $14,001 and $48,000
  • SH – used if your annual income from all jobs is between $48,001 and $70,000
  • ST – used if your annual income from all jobs is more than $70,000
  • WT – used specifically for contract work
  • CAE – used by casual agricultural workers, shearers or shed hands engaged in casual seasonal work on a day-to-day basis, for up to three months
  • EDW – used for Election Day workers who are employed on a casual basis immediately before, on, or after polling day.
  • NSW – used by seasonal workers in the horticulture or viticulture industries and are employed by a registered New Zealand employer under the Recognised Seasonal Employers’ Scheme.
  • STC – A special tax code is a tax deduction rate worked out to suit your individual circumstances.
  • SLBOR – Voluntary extra deductions in addition to the standard student loan deductions
  • SLCIR – used for required additional student loan repayments

A full explanation of these tax codes can be found here, or if you have further queries, get in touch with MyTax.