Wednesday 11 November 2009


A letter I sent today to ACC after I received a letter informing me that I'm now considered self-employed in Manufacturing (not elsewhere classified) and that, while my earnings in such employment were, as yet, insufficient to trigger premia payments, they dearly wanted clarification on my employment details. Such clarification provided below. Enjoy!

Dear Ms. Barrott,
With reference to your letter of 5 November, referencing my new ACC Self-employment number of XXXXXXX, a few details are in error or at least need clarification.
A couple of years ago I made this mistake of writing a few short pieces for the local newspaper and accepting about $200 as total payment for it.  I then had to file an IR3 form and found the resulting hassle sufficiently large that I asked The Press to stop paying me for anything I might produce for them.  It would be because of this ridiculous short bout of "self-employment" that I've fallen into your files.
I'm a normal salary and wage earner at the University of Canterbury -- a senior lecturer in economics.  While I don't completely rule out accepting for pay short writing or consultancy contracts in future, there is absolutely no way I will ever do it again unless the earnings from doing so are sufficient to make it worth all the paperwork hassle; as I now know that I'm likely to have to fill in ACC forms as well as IR3 forms should I do extra work for pay again, I'm now less likely than previously to take on such work.
So, what "business" I had would not be well classified as "Manufacturing (not elsewhere classified)"; I wrote a few book reviews and an op-ed or two in my spare time for the Christchurch Press. 

I would dearly appreciate it if I could be exempt from being an ACC customer for any such freelance work - it is a service I do not want. It isn't just that the premia are very high relative to the risks I incur; it's also the hassle of even having to contemplate the paperwork that could be involved. And, as any such earnings are minor and supplementary to my main income, any losses of such earnings are not events against which I would wish to insure, even at actuarily fair rates.

By my rough estimate, my family already pays about $3300 in ACC premia through the earnings levy, petrol levies (we drive well in excess of the average, being recent migrants touring the country), and car registration fees. This slightly exceeds the amount we pay for our house, life, health and car insurance; our employers also pay ACC premia on our behalf which, as we are both workers in fairly safe office jobs, cost more than would an actuarily fair policy as ACC cross-subsidises risky jobs by insufficiently adjusting premia for actual employment risk. We're sufficiently burdened by our contributions to a scheme which we did not ask to join, are not allowed to leave, but for which we are compelled to pay.

Please strike me from your self-employment ledger for the time being. And please advise me as to the amount of freelance earnings that would trigger my being compelled to purchase additional unwanted services from your scheme in order that I can take due care in choosing such work, either ensuring that I earn just under that amount or sufficiently in excess of the threshold that the paperwork would be worth the hassle.


Dr. Eric Crampton


  1. Very very nice!! What's the bet that you get a response along the lines of:
    "Thank you for your letter Mr Crampton. You haven't answered our question."

    And conveniently ignoring your diatribe.

  2. Manufacturing NEC - oh God, that brings back terrible memories of a former job of mine reviewing the industry classification.