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Child Support Inquiry Community Statement Session

I have received an invitation to participate in a Community Statement Session for the Inquiry into the Child Support Program. This participation will occur via teleconference on Thursday 28 August.

Speaking time will be 4 minutes, in which I have been asked to provide constructive ideas for improving the child support system, without referring to any personal experiences or details.

If anybody has any workable, realistic suggestions I will be happy to include as much as I can in my 4 minutes.

A child is a gift, not a weapon. To be a parent is a privilege, one which unfortunately some parents do not deserve.
Here's some proposals from myself.

1) Progress to a rule based system where the CSA's role is virtually solely the input of data in regards to assessment. That is progress towards removing decision making from the CSA. This would greatly reduce the administration costs and also negate poor service provided in regards to accuracy of information provided by the CSA. It would also address other factors such as bias against payers.

2) Reduce the scope of reason 8 departures from administrative assessment (often termed "Change of Assessment") solely to earning capacity and have the ATO determine whether or not a parent's taxable income should be adjusted according to taxation legislation. This would then negate the clearly established bias, from within the CSA, against payers. Furthermore, it would facilitate just and equitable decisions based upon the greater expertise of the Tax office. There would be a direct reduction in administration costs of the system with an associated reduction in indirect costs such as the reduction of complaints and objections.

3) Remove the two points of ridiculously dramatic change in liability for a single nights care by introducing a progressive scaling of the increase in CS.
(eg for a single under 13 child a 1 night change from 51 to 52 nights care can result in a $5166 change to the liability, for 3 13+ children the 1 nights care change can result in an up to $12024 change to the liability)
(eg for a single under 13 child a 1 night change from 238-237 nights care can result in a $5381   change to the liability, for 3 13+ children the 1 night care change can result in an up to $12525 change to the liability). Note.  as per section 40C of Assessment Act.

Example

As an example amend section 40C, to say something like:

The annual rate of child support payable by a parent for a child for a day in a child support period will be reduced if:

                     (a)  the parents annual rate of child support for the child is worked out under section 35 or 37 (income of both parents, no non‑parent carer); and

                     (b)  the parents percentage of care determined for the purposes of the administrative assessment of child support for the child is more than 65%.

The reduction will be 3% for each 1% over 65%.

Note currently the legislation is:

40C  Parents with more than 65% care

                   The annual rate of child support payable by a parent for a child for a day in a child support period is nil if:

                     (a)  the parents annual rate of child support for the child is worked out under section 35 or 37 (income of both parents, no non‑parent carer); and

                     (b)  the parents percentage of care determined for the purposes of the administrative assessment of child support for the child is more than 65%.


4) Remove the inherent bias against children of separation thorugh the combined action of Child Support and Centrelink (FTB) legislation so that such a child (of separation) cannot have support reduced based upon to 3 potential parental incomes (CS recipient's income, CS payer's income via FTB clawback and also CS recipient's partner's income).
Thanks MikeT. I will include your suggestions in my submission.
Over the next couple of days I will try to post a summary of what I plan to present, dependent on time constraints.
If anybody else wishes to contribute please feel free. I will be checking in here regularly over the next few days.

A child is a gift, not a weapon. To be a parent is a privilege, one which unfortunately some parents do not deserve.
Here is my suggestion - Have CSA automatically enable a COA (Change of Assessment) on the Payee (Receiving parent) too, as they currently only do it to the payer only (Paying Parent).. equal rules ... for both..
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