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$60.000 debt

Hi really could do with some advice to help my partner with this $60.000 cs debt.

I have only just found out about this debt, we have been living together for just over a year, he was unemployed when i met him and was claiming center link newstart payments, when he moved in with me the payments stopped as i work full time and i am supporting him, I knew that he had 2 children from a previous relationship but he was very reluctant to talk about them as he got very upset. slowley he has opened up about what happened.

I dont want to go into detail about how or why he has not seen them or had any contact with them as it is a personal matter.

what i am concerened with is that he has this debt and has no way of ever paying it. He has never informed csa of any estermates of income or done any tax returns since 2003. This is the year that he has not seen or had any contact with his children. I have looked at all his tax assessment which he still has from 1992 when his first child was born to 2002 and then nothing.

Last month Csa took 700 from his bank account and the a futher 1500 the week after, this is how i found out. he will not contact csa but is happy for me to do it.

The current case was initially registered on the 19/08/1992 was ended on 15/09/1992, the case then was commenced and ended on a further 2 occasions and the start of the current cs applicaton on 5/01/1999

 child support ended for 1st child on 1/05/2009 as she was considered to be living independently.

child support still payable for 2nd child born in 1998

thanks
I assume that you mean  a $60,000 debt.

With regard to handling his case with the CSA. You can become his Customer Authorised Representative with, I assume, "Ordinary Authority". Below is the respective extract from the CSA Guide.

It's hard to comment further as there is so little information. Additionally there were major changes to the legislation between 2006 and 2008 and I'm only really conversant with the latter legislation. It may well be advantageous to look at submitting tax returns. However I think that there is a limitation of 5 previous tax years. I assisted someone who had not done their tax returns for many years to submit their returns and there were no fines imposed, in fact the person got refunds (note that these would very likely be intercepted by the CSA). Without having submitted tax returns under the current legislation your partner would likely be on a default income that is 2/3rds of the annualised MTAWE or greater. MTAWE is the Male Total Average Weekly Earnings and the annualised amount is currently $41,187. Here's a link to the Annualised MTAWE for 2007-2011.

The CSA Guide - 6.3.6: Customers authorised representatives said
6.3.6: Customers authorised representatives
Version 2.4, Last updated 10 May 2011 12:20pm
Context

Customers may specifically authorise a third person to make enquiries on their behalf.
Legislative references

    Section 150 Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989
    Section 16 Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988
    Privacy Act 1988

Explanation

CSA can communicate with a person who a customer has authorised to act on their behalf. When CSA is talking to a customers representative it may disclose protected information about that customer which is necessary for that particular enquiry. This is permitted under the secrecy provisions because the disclosure is for the purposes of the Child Support legislation (section 16(2A) Registration and Collection Act and section 150(2A) Assessment Act). However, CSA will not disclose to a parents authorised representative any personal information about the other parent in the child support case.

CSA will talk to a customers representative if it is satisfied:

    the person has the customers authority to talk to CSA about their child support case, or is legally entitled to act on behalf of the customer; and
    the representative has provided sufficient information to identify themselves to CSA.

CSA is not obliged to recognise the authority of a nominated representative to make enquiries on a customers behalf, but will usually do so. If CSA considers that a customer representative is not acting in the customers best interests, CSA will contact the customer to make more suitable communication arrangements.

Types of customer representatives

CSA can deal with 3 types of customer representatives:

    Solicitors;
    Authorised agents with power of attorney, or other legal authority to act on the customers behalf; and
    Representatives with ordinary authority.

A solicitor or authorised agent can represent a CSA customer in all child support matters, except for a change of assessment conference. A representative with ordinary authority can only represent a CSA customer in simple child support matters.
Solicitors

Solicitors are professionally entitled to act on behalf of their clients who may also be CSA customers. If a CSA customer instructs their solicitor to act (i.e. deal with CSA) on their behalf in child support matters, CSA will accept such representation and deal with the solicitor. Solicitors should be able to include an authorisation with written requests, or to send a facsimile of it for telephone communications. Solicitors can also have implied authorisation by lodging a form (such as an application for a child support assessment) signed by the customer, or by producing a CSA letter sent to the customer.
Authorised agents with power of attorney, or other legal authority to act on the customers behalf

Possession of a power of attorney is sufficient authorisation if it confers on the recipient authority to do anything that he or she can lawfully do on behalf of the customer as an attorney. The Public Trustee's Office and an Administrator are also both legally authorised to act on behalf of a person.

The representative must be able to provide a written document conferring a general power of attorney. Alternatively, the power of attorney may have been conferred for child support purposes only. If a person has been given a power of attorney to act on someones behalf for purposes including child support purposes, CSA will accept such representation.
Representatives with ordinary authority

Representatives with ordinary authority have been authorised by a CSA customer to act on their behalf. They are not a CSA customer's solicitor and do not have a power of attorney. They could be a customer's partner, their friend, or any third party authorised by a CSA customer to act on their behalf, including Members of Parliament and their electorate staff making representations on behalf of their constituent. An authorised representative does not need to be an individual but can be an organisation or a position within an organisation. For example, a customer who is in prison may authorise the social worker of the particular prison to be their representative. It should be noted that the Commonwealth Ombudsman does not act as a customer's representative. The Ombudsman is authorised by legislation to investigate the administrative actions of Commonwealth agencies including CSA.
Authorisation

CSA must be satisfied that a customer has authorised a person to represent them in child support matters. For example, tax agents can act on behalf of a customer in relation to their taxation affairs, but would not generally represent their clients in child support matters.

A customer can authorise CSA to talk to their representative on a single occasion by handing over the telephone, or give that authorisation to CSA in person. CSA will require written authorisation from the customer if the arrangement is to continue. CSA may also collect identity information for the representative, and assign an identification number, to verify the representatives identity.

The best proof that a representative has of a customers authority is for the representative to produce a letter of authorisation. A letter of authorisation would preferably:

    identify the customer and the representative;
    be signed and dated by the customer and the representative;
    specify the extent to which the representative represents the customer;
    specify the period for which it is valid; and
    contain sufficient information to identify the representative (over the telephone or in person).

Alternatively, a form is available on www.csa.gov.au for a customer to complete, permitting another person to enquire or act on the customers behalf when dealing with CSA.

The authorisation must be current. If no period is specified, CSA will decide whether it is current based on its wording and the circumstances, such as the nature of the relationship between the representative and the customer. In so doing, CSA will consider whether the customer might reasonably expect CSA to give the representative particular information, depending on the nature of the enquiry and the nature of their relationship. For example, the name of the customers employer or the customers address would be particularly sensitive and irrelevant to satisfying any inquiry.

In some circumstances, the customer may not be able to sign an authority (e.g. if the customer has a physical or mental incapacity that means they are unable to deal with their own affairs) but the representative must still be able to satisfy CSA that they are responsible for the customers affairs. A medical certificate or a statutory declaration signed by the representative may be appropriate.

CSA will accept that a Member of Parliament (or a member of their electorate staff) is authorised by a customer to act on their behalf if they can produce written authorisation. If they have no written authorisation, CSA will assume an authorisation exists if they can:

    satisfactorily prove their identity and position;
    identify the constituent who has made the complaint; and
    quote information that could only have come from the customer.

CSA:

    will not accept a representatives authority where the representative is a child under 18 years;
    will strongly advise against a customer having either a child over the age of 18 years or the other parent in their case as a representative. However, if they insist, CSA will not refuse to treat the person as a representative.

Extent of a persons authority to act for a customer

CSA will accept that a representative with ordinary authority can act for a customer in matters that do not involve negotiations, and matters limited to simple enquiries and actions. A representative with ordinary authority can:

    provide or seek information regarding a change in percentage of care;
    lodge forms signed by customers;
    make enquiries regarding pending or missed payments;
    make enquiries regarding penalties/debt/recovery action;
    provide information concerning relevant dependant children (see Chapter 2.9.5, for information on adding a relevant dependant child to a child support assessment);
    request statements of account/ certificate debt/notices of assessment; and
    provide address information.

CSA will accept that the customers solicitor or a person with a power of attorney or other legal authority can act for a customer in more complex matters. These are matters that potentially require negotiations; processes which may alter child support liability and obligations; or matters where a representative could make a decision on behalf of the customer. They include, but are not limited to:

    tax refund intercepts;
    non-agency payments;
    objections;
    elections to end or resume CSA collection;
    an application for a child support assessment;
    a change of assessment application;
    an application that the fixed annual rate not apply;
    an application to reduce a minimum assessment;
    child support agreements;
    debt negotiations; and
    estimate of income elections.

Interpreters and telephone assistance services

CSA uses interpreters and telephone assistance services to help communicate with customers where appropriate. Such services are not representing the customer, but enabling CSA and the customer to communicate better. CSA must be satisfied that any interpreter or translator is only relaying the conversation between CSA and the customer, not interposing their own views or altering the information.
External Telephone Assistance Services

Where the National Relay Service or Telephone Interpreter Service is used, translation only will occur. Where a customer wants a relative or friend to act as their translator, and it is clear that more than mere translation is occurring, CSA will treat that person as a customer representative and require specific authorisation from the customer.
National Relay Service

The National Relay Service (NRS), operated by Australian Communication Exchange Ltd, is a service that allows people who are deaf, or have a speech, hearing or other communication impairment, to communicate with other people over the telephone. They can do this by typing a message on a keyboard of a telephone typewriter (TTY). The message is sent to a TTY at the NRS. A NRS Operator will relay the conversation between the TTY user and the voice telephone user.

The NRS is bound by confidentiality and privacy principles. The NRS is contacted by the customer on their general number 133677. The NRS operator will then dial CSA, and introduce themselves. Thereafter, the operator speaks only the words of the TTY customer. Similarly, if CSA wishes to contact a customer using the NRS, CSA will call the same general number, and ask for the call to be placed to the customer.

A CSA case officer contacted by a customer using the NRS should initially note the name of the NRS operator and time of the call. The officer should then proceed to establish proof of identity of the customer caller in the usual manner. Similarly, where a CSA case officer needs to contact a customer who uses NRS, CSA will call the NRS, and ask for the call to be relayed to the customer. Proof of identity procedures should then be followed once the customer has accepted the communication mode.
Telephone Interpreter Service

The Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) is another service that CSA and customers use to help communicate. Providing the customer has given the CSA officer consent to use the TIS to communicate and can satisfy the proof of identity requirements, CSA will deal with the customer through the TIS as it would with the customer directly.
Thanks for the reply.

we will do that and then i might get somewhere, but at the moment its all a muddle.

Under the freedom of information act he has asked csa to send him all Assesments that have been issued, which they have agreed to do, still waiting for them to arrive. wrote to the objection team out lining his objections, objection refused, but a explination of each issue raised answered. 3 assesments for the periods 1 march 2001-31march 2002 monthly amount payable $64.42. 1 april 2002-30 september 2002 monthly amount payable $0 1st october 2002 -23 december 2003 monthly amount payable $0.

After this date he was in and out of work and if he did work tax was dectucted from his pay, each year never adds up to more that $20000. his center link payment show that child support was withheld from his payments so they must have know he was out of work.

so confusing
Missali said
Under the freedom of information act he has asked csa to send him all Assesments that have been issued

You(he) shouldn't need FOI request(s) as there is no privacy aspect (i.e. he would have been sent them anyway). So if the CSA have insisted upon FOI request them complain and complain not only to the CSA but the minister for DHS (Tanya Pliberesk), your local Federal MP and the Ombudsman. You complaint would likely be along the lines of "abuse of power".

Hi there Mike thanks for the info.

in the reply from a letter recived from csa it says, From 1 july 2008, child support legislation requires that if a customer does not lodge their tax return according to the requirments of the income tax assesment act, csa will only correct the provisional income used in the assessment if the amount is higher then the figure currently being applied. this means that if the taxable income is lower and was not lodged in accordance with the income tax assessment act rules, Csa will not correct the income.
Csa does maintain the right to correct the income in certain circumstances that are considered exceptional or where the child support register detemines it is appropriate to divert from the standard assessment and apply a register determined amount of income.

what about the income used before 2008 they didnt metion that.
Also as the assesment for child support is based on both parents income and the payee did not declare to center link that her circumstances had changed, and she still claimed the single parent pension for the dates that they where reconciled.
I am adding this because the mother would not inform center link that she was living with him as she would lose the single partent pension.
this went on for years until 2000, from 2000 to 2003 my partner had her daughter from a previous relationship living with him full time and she was still claming the child as a dependant of hers. is this not fraud on her part.

Csa agreed to send all assesment for child support and a statment of child support owed and penelties.

Sent a form in on the 29 of september to ask for a payment plan and offered to pay $10 a week of the debt, also sent in a form change of income details to inform them that he was unemployed and not on center link payments and that i was supporting him.

thanks
Missali says the CSA said
From 1 july 2008, child support legislation requires that if a customer does not lodge their tax return according to the requirments of the income tax assesment act, csa will only correct the provisional income used in the assessment if the amount is higher then the figure currently being applied. this means that if the taxable income is lower and was not lodged in accordance with the income tax assessment act rules, Csa will not correct the income.
Csa does maintain the right to correct the income in certain circumstances that are considered exceptional or where the child support register detemines it is appropriate to divert from the standard assessment and apply a register determined amount of income.

Unfortunately this, collect or transfer the maximum possible to maximise the FTB-claw back taxation, is supported by the legislation from 2008 which says:

Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989 said
56  Taxable income is as assessed under Income Tax Assessment Act
Meaning of taxable income
   (1)   For the purposes of assessing a parent in respect of the costs of a child in relation to a child support period, if the parents taxable income has been assessed under an Income Tax Assessment Act for the last relevant year of income in relation to the child support period, the parents taxable income for that year is the amount as so assessed.
Note:   Sections 34A and 57 are also relevant to a persons taxable income.
When amended tax assessment may be taken into account
   (2)   If, after an administrative assessment of child support is made, the assessment (the tax assessment) of a parents taxable income is amended (whether or not because of an objection, appeal or review), the Registrar must not amend the administrative assessment to take account of the amendment to the tax assessment unless one of the following applies:
   (a)   the amendment to the tax assessment is made under item 5 of the table in subsection 170(1) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 (amendment due to fraud or evasion);
   (b)   the amendment to the tax assessment is made under provisions of an Income Tax Assessment Act that are prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this paragraph;
   ©   the amendment is made in circumstances prescribed for the purposes of this paragraph;
   (d)   the amendment is made solely for the purposes of working out the parents adjusted taxable income for the last relevant year of income for the purposes of paragraph 60(1)(b) of this Act (first estimate must be lower than adjusted taxable income).
Date of assessment of a parents taxable income taken to be date of notice of the assessment

I'd suggest that getting the latest tax return is your highest priority (by the end of this month I think).

Missali said
what about the income used before 2008 they didnt metion that.

Very likely they didn't mention it because they might well have no legal foundation to ignore those tax returns. So get them in and apply for the assessments to be corrected according to the tax returns. Obfuscation of customer's rights is a tool that the CSA frequently use. I'd suggest making a complaint that the CSA have not fully informed you of the complete relevant information.


Missali said
is this not fraud on her part?
It could very well be. I'd suggest passing the information on to Centrelink and also complaining that the CSA have not acted upon information that indicates fraudulent activity. A few years ago the Ombudsman wrote a damning report of the CSA inaction in regards to reporting fraud. As such the Ombudsman should also be informed.


Missali said
Csa agreed to send all assessment for child support and a statment of child support owed and penelties.
This should assist. Note that the CSA could well dispense with the penalties upon payment of the other arrears, so ask if they will do this (and keep on occasionally asking). Have a read of 5.1.6: Late payment penalties.

Missali said
Sent a form in on the 29 of september to ask for a payment plan and offered to pay $10 a week of the debt, also sent in a form change of income details to inform them that he was unemployed and not on center link payments and that i was supporting him.
Uhhm, this is a grey area. The legislation caters for collection from wages, from social security benefits and from FTB payments for the CSA child/ren. Constraints apply to the maximim e.g. for employee withholding, unless a section 72A notice has been issued (collection from 3rd parties, this may apply as they've raided your partner's bank account), a PEA (Protected Earnings Amount) applies.

I'd suggest asking the CSA to explain/clarify under which section of the Registration and Collection Act that they have a legal right to expect a person who has a genuine taxable income of $0 to pay anything. I may come up with an answer in due course. However, if the CSA do let you know, please let us know.

In regards to the money taken from your partner's bank account. I'd suggest not putting any money into your partner's account. The CSA should also not touch a joint account:

The CSA Guide - 5.2.9: Collection from third parties said

Is a notice effective against a joint bank account?


A notice under section 72A cannot be effective against a joint bank account because it is not possible to identify any portion as belonging solely to one owner (DFC of T v Westpac Savings Bank Ltd 87 ATC 4346).

Last edit: by MikeT

Update
Csa agreed to a payment plan of $30 per week towards the debt.
child support payable is $30 per month.

Recived statments from Csa for all assessments from 1998 to september 2011.

requested copys of tax returns and notice of assessments from ATO.
recived all information requested and was able to work out how many years tax returns to send in, last tax return was 2005.

requested payment summerys from center link, they were very helpful and printed them off there and then.

from all the information recieved i was able to cross check against the statement that csa had sent which listed all amounts due and payments made. salary deductions, payments direct from center link while he was claiming newstart payments.

last week managed to fill in all the years tax returns from 2006 -2011 .

when he was working tax was deducted from his pay.
other dates when he was not working or claiming center link payments filled a stat dec declaring he had no information for those dates.

Csa agreed to remit 25% of the peneltys on agreement of the payment plan.

so hopefully we may get a corrected amount owed when the tax is sorted out.






 
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