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Slapping A Parent With A Debt 4 Years After Child Turns 18

A friend of mine has a daughter who is now 22 years old. Whilst his daughter was eligible under CSA he lodged an estimate that has incurred a debt. However they have only just calculated this debt due to a "back log" and require an immediate payment. What are his rights (if any) for objection etc. He was hoping to if he had to pay, then to  pay the daughter direct but im not sure how that would work?
HubbyPays said
A friend of mine has a daughter who is now 22 years old. Whilst his daughter was eligible under CSA he lodged an estimate that has incurred a debt. However they have only just calculated this debt due to a "back log" and require an immediate payment. What are his rights (if any) for objection etc. He was hoping to if he had to pay, then to  pay the daughter direct but im not sure how that would work?

Hubby Pays,
                I don't think that they can demand immediate payment, but can look to making arrangements to pay. Furthermore it is audacious and dis-respectful and lacking in care and diligence for this matter to have taken them 4 years to handle. Perhaps as it's their mistake that the debt is now apparent and was not made apparent appropriately and within acceptable timeframes that they should, through their compensation process pay any such debt. I would certainly look toward objecting, definitely about immediate payment and their insisting that it be immediate. You are protected by the law to be treated with respect by any and all public servants that respect includes consideration of an ability to pay, which immediate is not respective of. Perhaps you should also complain with regard to this issue.

If the debt is to the daughter (I would have thought it would have been toward the mother) and not to the commonwealth, then I think the issue may be outside the remit of the CSA and that the matter of enforcing payment would be a court matter, especially as there is no longer a case and that there are limits on arrears (perhaps that might be why this is a debt now and thus payable to the commonwealth rather than the former CS recipient). If it is a debt to the commonwealth then, and this is really way beyond my knowledge, it may be that the statute of limitations, if or if not it is applicable, comes into play (I've seen this matter of debts discussed and I think it's a very grey area, Federal versus state legislation and things).

This could even be a scam to defraud you, are you sure that it is the CSA?

Perhaps to need to clarify exactly to whom the debt is owed. Anyway wait for others to comment on this.

sorry should of been more clear, the debt is payable to the mother for x date to x date (estimate lodgement timeframe). Dad wants to pay the money directly to the daughter though. He is really concerned that it took 4 years to reconcile that is not good customer service!!
HubbyPays said
sorry should of been more clear, the debt is payable to the mother for x date to x date (estimate lodgement timeframe). Dad wants to pay the money directly to the daughter though. He is really concerned that it took 4 years to reconcile that is not good customer service!!
 Name removed
Ok then I don't really think that the CSA have any real say in the matter, there is no existing case. What I would personally do is :-

a) notify the CSA that you understand that they have no real say as there is no case, but that you will make private arrangements to pay the debt to the daughter and perhaps provide them with receipts if they wish them to be entered into their records (I'd suggest that this be done in writing).

b) Arrange a repayment agreement with the daughter (perhaps do this before a) ), this would include obtaining some proof of payment, so as to cover the CSA trying to deny it happening, depending upon the relationship with the daughter you may also want to get evidence of acceptance of an agreement. My understanding, as said above, is that the debt itself is a civil matter so if there's hassle (e.g. I want it yesterday)  You can always explain that the available recourse is through the courts who may well consider that as there is no longer a child then it may well be that there is no recourse and that it may even if there is recourse that the fault lay with the CSA and they should make correct their mistake.

c) Inform the daughter's mother of the action that you are taking (see hassle above, except the mother would also have to explain why she should get it as she is no longer supporting the child).

Again, see if others comment.

        a source has come back to me and said that the CSA do have a right, however, there was no substantiation of this by any reference to the guide and or legislation. So I've been looking to see if I can find anything and to be honest I can find little, that covers this area. However I believe this may be quite relevant, it's from the guide :-

An entitlement to receive child support will end if a parent or non-parent carer entitled to receive child support for a child ceases to be an eligible carer of that child (section 12(2)).

I believe that since the daughter is over 18 and I assume payments ceased, that a terminating event occurred and that, as such, the mother is not an eligible carer of that child, and therefore, that child is not longer a child. Basically as I see it according to their guide, the mother may have redress against the CSA for their inability to competently administrate on the mother's behalf. They had all the available details to be able to ascertain the urgency and not fall foul of their own guidelines, they had the pertinent dates.

Sheesh if they can't order things according to obviously blatant priorities then they should admit that they cannot administer.

Perhaps it's time for the FLWG Agency to step in :)  ;)

Last edit: by MikeT

I am really sorry to read about this dilemna.  I believe it is a valid debt that is owed to the mother.  

Recovery, however, is a different story.  If I was the payer I would raise hell in every forum available.

1.  Contact CSA and ask them to supply the full details of all calculations.  

2.  At the same time, lodge objections against both the calculation and the decision to recover.

3. Lodge a customer complaint letter about taking 4 years and then coming after you.

4. Request they they do not seek to recover by ANY means until all outstanding issues are sorted.

5. Contact Ludwig's CSA adviser (not the DLO) and rationally explain the circumstances and asking if the Minister can intervene somehow.
FYI -  it is all part of CSA new $162 million tax payer funded "compliance" initiative.

There is a new team focussed on "crunching the numbers" - thay have always been at CSA but with extra funding they now have more resources and along with the CTP team have been brought to the forefront..

These new teams need to be looked at heavily to see what they can actually do.. and how often.

I too have just been through this. My kids are not over 18 but CSA sent me a letter stating the ex understated her income in the 2003-2004 period (no details of how or by how much etc, etc) really weird dates that were examined and BAM! an extra $1200 please tacked onto my debt..

Weird bit was that she was working for govt dept - so i am guessing that she lodged a tax return… So the only places ex could "revise" income would be in deductions for that period….. But for 4 years ago?

I got he letter about 8 weeks ago - for a 2003 period that wasnt a proper tax year… the way they do this is set up to bamboozle payers with dates and figures. etc.

I have recently recieved another for $600 for a different year. I am getting the impression that if they do it a little bit at a time then payers think "why fight it - just pay"… this one I am challenging!

I am editing this on the basis that I am querying whether your ex has had a new baby?…. I am trying to ascertian the legitimacy that a "mid/end year" introduced rebate that is backdated (see below) which reduces the payee taxable income is being used as the basis for a reviewing the payee taxable income for the 04-05 year… I am looking into this on the basis that the rebate claimed by the ex is for a another child (needing maternity payment or child care rebate). But as a "rebate" it reduces the tax able income for the ex during this year. A reduction in her income then increases my "liability"… which means that not only does she get a tax return payment for someone elses child, but i also pay her more for mine (who are not newborn or require childcare).

"On 20
December 2004 the Treasurer, the Hon Peter
Costello released further details about the introduction
of the new tax rebate. He said it would be
backdated to 1 July 2004 (rather than 1 January
2005 as originally envisaged), enabling families to
claim an additional six months of costs (Costello
2004b). The Treasurer also announced that there
would be a cap on the rebate of $4,000 per child."

and this is seen as a "tax rebate" is CSA taking this rebate into consideration when reviewing PAYEE "tax returns" for 04-05 and then stinging payers for extra due to a drop in the payee's taxable income for this period - some 4 years later?

This needs answers - if anyone can help.

Last edit: by nxus

A tax rebate is a rebate on tax that has been paid which in effect has implications against your taxable income.

The tax office cannot take a retrospective rebate for 04-05 against the next year (05-06). If you read the link i sent it explains how to claim for 05-06 as "per normal".

so from this it means that the reduction must come from an adjustment of the year that the backdating applies to. As a result the reduction theoretically can be seen as an deducation and therefore affects your reported taxable income for that year…

this is why I am asking the question…. Does anyone know how this ruling was introduced and executed…the govt just doesnt hand out money against taxes collected.

It has to be justified under the Act. So visualising the new rebate as a deduction for the affected year enables the variation.

Update on the search: I cant find anything on the specifics of reducing a taxable income as the result of back dating a rebate…. but there are so many amendments (including ones initiated by CSA) to this thing I am getting lost in "party of the 3rd party" legal jargon.

Question still remains though - Why are there so many reviews going back to 04-05 and does backdated rebates and offsets paly a part in CSA determined CS income (being different from Taxable income). I ask because the ketter i recieved states that ex put in a Tax Return and now 4 years later it has been amended but you get lost in how CSA determined the new income and no indication of why it was reviewed in the first place.. Just trying to find out what triggered the review.

Last edit: by nxus

I just came across this tid bit of info while I was doing a bit of web surfing which may be of interest to people

The Commonwealth has a scheme called Compensation for detriment caused by defective administration sometimes called the CDDA scheme that was established in 1995. Compensation for defective administration may be paid where CSA: Unreasonably failed to follow appropriate procedures, Unreasonably failed to institute appropriate procedures in the first place, Gave incorrect or ambiguous advice.

I have not found the link to the scheme but I am looking for it

I hope this may be of benefit to someone
go here:

ERROR: A link was posted here (url) but it appears to be a broken link.
Here is the section from the current CSA Guide.  Read carefully and if you think you may have a case it can not hurt to try.

The Current CSA GUIDE

6.11.1: Compensation

Version 2.1, Last updated 30 June 2008 9:00pm
Information in this version of The Guide applies from 1 July 2008
Refer to the previous Scheme Guide for information until 30 June 2008


If a customer suffers a loss due to inadequate service or advice CSA will do all that it can to redress the issue and remedy the loss. Compensation may be payable where there is no other remedy available.

CSA will advise customers when its actions or inaction have caused them to suffer a loss and it appears that compensation could be payable. An invitation to apply for compensation does not, in itself, constitute an admission of liability, nor does it guarantee that compensation will be paid.

Legislative references

Privacy Act 1988

Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, section 33

Financial Management and Accountability Regulations 1977, regulation 9

Discretionary Compensation Mechanisms, Department of Finance and Deregulation Finance Circular 2006/5

Commonwealth policy for handling monetary claims (Attorney General, December 1997)


There are a number of reasons why compensation may be payable by a Commonwealth agency such as CSA. CSA may pay compensation if:

it would be likely to be found to have a legal liability to pay compensation;
there has been a breach of privacy;
its administration has been defective; or
an act of grace payment is appropriate.
If compensation is payable, CSA will compensate for loss suffered as a result of its action/inaction.

Further information is available about:

How to make a claim; and
Settlement of claims.
Legal liability

If a decision maker believes that a court would be likely to find CSA liable for negligence, CSA will consider trying to settle the matter. CSA may try to avoid unnecessary litigation by offering an appropriate amount as compensation.

The most usual claim for legal liability is a claim of negligence. The concept of negligence is not defined or regulated by legislation. Ultimately a court must decide whether or not a legal liability for negligence exists. The circumstances which give rise to negligence are generally serious. Provided that CSA has acted reasonably and in good faith it will be rare that its actions will constitute negligence.

Three elements are needed to establish a legal liability for negligence:

A legal duty of care;

A breach of the duty of care; and

Loss or detriment suffered as a direct result of the breach.

Duty of care

Whether a duty existed will depend on the circumstances of each case. However, a legal duty of care does not equate to any general obligation or responsibility to be careful. A duty to exercise reasonable care arises where it is reasonably foreseeable that a customer may suffer some harm as a result of CSA's advice or actions. A duty does not exist if a person seeks general advice or where the reasons for seeking compensation are sufficiently remote from CSA's actions or involvement.

A legal duty of care can be expressly excluded by statutory provisions.


Section 91 of the Assessment Act provides that CSA can act on the basis of an application for acceptance of an agreement and accompanying documents without conducting any further investigations.

Legislation may also provide specific remedies in particular circumstances, such as a right of review or appeal.


Section 107 of the Assessment Act gives a payer the right to seek a declaration from a court that they are not a person from whom child support can be sought.

Where a right of review exists, courts have ruled that the exercise of the power in good faith will not give rise to a legal duty of care. In these cases, using the right of review is the appropriate remedy provided the customer was made aware that the remedy existed.

Breach of duty

A lapse on CSA's part does not necessarily mean a breach of duty. Negligence is a failure to meet a standard of care that a court considers to be reasonable in the circumstances.

Whether or not a breach occurred is often determined hypothetically by considering what a 'reasonable person' would have done in similar circumstances.


It is not unreasonable to assume that any competent officer processing a large number of forms may make one error in the processing of one form.

Loss or detriment

The loss suffered must be direct and foreseeable and a result of a breach of a duty of care. There has to be a causal link between the loss suffered and CSA's actions, and the loss must be in the nature of something which CSA should have reasonably known or expected to occur.

The types of loss or detriment which may be compensable are set out below.


Loss is the damage or detriment suffered by the claimant as a result of the wrongdoing claimed.

Financial or 'pure' economic losses are relatively straightforward and readily quantifiable. They can include:

actual costs incurred (legal costs, out of pocket expenses, travel costs, medical expenses);
loss of wages for necessary time off work; and
loss of opportunity to receive money, or interest incurred on money borrowed.
In relation to loss of opportunity to have child support collected, a claimant must demonstrate that they have lost a real opportunity, not merely a speculative one. The likelihood of recovery or amounts already recovered must also be taken into account.

Losses in relation to personal injury can be physical or psychological. Medical evidence will almost always be necessary to establish the extent of the injury and to prove that it occurred as a direct result of CSA's actions.

A claim for non-economic loss cannot stand alone. It must be related (or consequential) to some other form of loss (aggravated damages). Claims for non-financial loss can take many forms, but can include such things as stress, distress, vexation, anger and embarrassment.

Amounts payable for personal injury and non-financial loss will be considered carefully in accordance with legal precedents, principle and practice.

In assessing the type and extent of any loss, CSA may also consider to what extent, if any, the claimant contributed to the loss, or what reasonable steps they took to minimise or contain the loss. Did the claimant tell CSA about the loss as soon as they were able? Where a claimant caused, contributed to or was able to avoid a loss, a portion or all of that loss may be attributed to the claimant.

Breach of privacy

The Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act) requires that agencies like CSA observe strict privacy safeguards in handling personal information. These obligations are legally enforceable.

If the Privacy Commissioner upholds a complaint under the Privacy Act he can award a specified amount of compensation. This amount is recoverable from the Commonwealth. It can include reasonable expenses incurred in making the complaint and compensation for injury to personal feelings or humiliation.

Where a decision maker feels that the Privacy Commissioner would be likely to find that CSA is legally liable for a breach of privacy, CSA can try to settle the matter by offering an appropriate amount as compensation.

Defective administration

The Commonwealth has a scheme called 'Compensation for detriment caused by defective administration' (sometimes called the CDDA scheme) that was established in 1995. It provides an alternative method of compensating customers who have been adversely affected by the administration of Commonwealth agencies where no legal liability exists. A legal liability is only likely to arise in the most serious of cases.

The scheme is administrative only. It is not regulated by legislation. The criteria and limitations for paying compensation under the scheme are set out in the Department of Finance and Deregulation Finance Circular 2006/5.

Compensation for defective administration may be paid where CSA:

unreasonably failed to follow appropriate procedures;
unreasonably failed to institute appropriate procedures in the first place;
gave incorrect or ambiguous advice; or
unreasonably failed to give advice that should have been given.
The scheme:

does not apply where there is a legal liability; and
cannot be used to offset debts owed to the Commonwealth.
The Secretary of the Department of Human Services or an authorised officer can make a decision to pay an amount for defective administration. The decision maker does not have to approve a payment, but the decision to approve or refuse a payment must be publicly defensible.

Act of grace payments

An act of grace payment is a special 'gift' of money from the Commonwealth which may be made where there is no other right of redress available, but there remains some moral obligation on the Commonwealth to satisfy the claimant.

Act of grace payments are extremely rare. One of the principles in establishing the defective administration scheme was to ensure that an act of grace payment was not sought simply as another method of compensation where no legal liability existed. The criteria for act of grace payments are set out in the Department of Finance and Deregulation Finance Circular 2006/5.

Circumstances where an act of grace payment may be appropriate are where:

the application of the legislation produces unintended, anomalous, inequitable, unjust or otherwise unacceptable results in particular circumstances;
the matter is not covered by legislation but it is intended to introduce such legislation and it is considered desirable in the particular case to apply the benefits of the proposed legislation retrospectively by act of grace; or
the particular circumstances of the case lead to the conclusion that there is a moral obligation on the Commonwealth to make a payment.
The Minister for Finance and authorised officials of the Department of Finance (DoFA) can approve act of grace payments (section 33, Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997). CSA can only make proposals in relation to act of grace payments.

How to make a claim

If a customer believes that they are entitled to compensation they need to state in writing:

what happened;
why they believe CSA's actions caused them to suffer a loss; and
what that loss was i.e. where possible quantify the loss and give evidence such as receipts, invoices or medical reports.
A claim is managed and investigated by a Compensation Officer. The Compensation Officer is a point of liaison with a customer whilst a claim is being considered.

Each claim will be evaluated and decided on its merits by authorised officers. CSA will use Commonwealth policies and guidelines to make the decision. The customer will be given reasons for the decision.

CSA aims to advise customers of the outcome of their claim within six weeks of receiving the claim. The Compensation Officer will advise the customer if this timeframe cannot be met.

Settlement of claims

CSA can only spend public monies in the ways specified by the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and Regulations. Regulation 9 requires any expenditure to be in accordance with Commonwealth policy. The policy for payment of legal claims is set out in the Commonwealth Policy for Handling Monetary Claims. The principles for deciding and settling claims are set out in Attachment A of the policy The Commonwealth as a model litigant.

The factors that must be taken into account are:

the likelihood of success of the claim in court;
costs of defending the claim; and
any other prejudice in defending the claim.
External legal advice must be obtained where CSA intends to pay more than $25,000 in settlement of a claim.

Full and final settlement can only be made on the basis of a deed of release indemnifying the Commonwealth against owing any further liability for that particular matter.

In settling claims for defective administration the Commonwealth should not take advantage of its relative position of strength. The decision making process and the decision have to be transparent. Claimants should be advised of adequate details of any offer. They should not be required to waive all of their rights if a partial settlement offer is made and they should be advised that the Ombudsman can review the decision.


6.11.2: Waiver

Version 2.0, Last updated 17 March 2008 5:00pm
Information in this version of The Guide applies from 1 July 2008
Refer to the previous Scheme Guide for information until 30 June 2008


A CSA customer may owe a debt to the Commonwealth, for example, a child support debt or a debt arising from an overpayment of child support. The Commonwealth is able to waive, or expunge, a debt. If a debt is waived it is completely wiped out and cannot be pursued at a later time should the person's financial circumstances improve.

Legislative references

Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, section 34

Discretionary Compensation Mechanisms, Department of Finance and Deregulation Finance Circular 2006/5, Attachment D


A debt can only be waived by the Minister of Finance and Deregulation or by particular authorised officers of that department.

Requests for waiver are considered on a case by case basis. Circumstances where a waiver may be appropriate usually involve a moral obligation, rather than a legal obligation, to extinguish the debt. A moral obligation may be considered to have arisen due to continuing financial hardship and for equity reasons, for instance:

there are sound reasons for believing that a person's financial circumstances will not improve to the point where they could repay the debt in full by instalments without suffering genuine and significant financial hardship. A person's assets, future income earning capacity, health and family circumstances are taken into consideration in making a decision; or
a direct act or omission of a Commonwealth agency, or the impact of a Commonwealth law - whether or not it arose from defective administration - has caused a person to incur an unintended debt to the Commonwealth, the recovery of which would result in an overall loss to the person concerned.
The waiver powers are intended to be used in a limited number of cases to ensure equity in the impact of Government activities.

How to make a claim

A request for waiver of a Commonwealth debt can be made directly to the Department of Finance and Deregulation or via CSA. Where a request for waiver is received directly by the Department of Finance and Deregulation it will notify CSA.

A request should provide sufficient information, such as:

details of the relevant section(s) of legislation to which the debt relates and the applicant's circumstances in relation to that legislation (CSA can provide the Department of Finance and Deregulation with this information if necessary);
specific details of the Commonwealth's role, if any, that may have directly contributed to the applicant's situation;
any history/background to the case, including any available information on the person's assets, income, future earning capacity, other debts, health and family circumstances;
any other information that may be relevant to the decision-maker's consideration of the particular circumstances; and
written authority for CSA to provide information to the Department of Finance and Deregulation or, if the application has been made directly to the Department of Finance and Deregulation, written authority to discuss the application with CSA.
The Department of Finance and Deregulation will seek additional information from CSA as appropriate. Both the claimant and CSA will be given a copy of the decision on the claim and the reasons for that decision.

I hope this may be of help to some people
Estimate Reconciliations

What is an estimate?

An estimate is an election that a parent can make to have their child support assessment or notional assessment for a child support period based on their expected income. This is allowed because a past income may not be the best indicator of the parent's future income.

At the end of the child support period the Child Support Agency (CSA) then reconciles the estimate as required under current legislation.

Reconciling of estimates is now done manually, which is a complex and time consuming process. If the actual income is higher than the assessment then an adjustment is made to the account and a debt created.  If the income is lower then legislation dictates that no adjustment be made. Due to the number of estimates made by parents each year, there is usually a delay between the end of the child support period and the reconciliation of the estimate. 

A parent is required to tell the CSA of any event that affects the accuracy of their estimate. This obligation is outlined in the notice that is sent to a parent when an estimate is accepted (section 160 & section 162A(2)).

If you update us promptly about changes that affect the accuracy of your estimate and lodge your tax returns then the CSA is better able to reconcile your estimate.

What if my estimate is reconciled and my child support case has already ended?
In some circumstances child support assessments may be amended after the case has ended.

If the assessment was registered for CSA collection over the period of the estimate, any arrears created by the estimate reconciliation are still collectable by the CSA. This is child support which would have been payable to the receiving parent for the costs incurred caring for the child. If the assessment was private collect, the increase in the past assessment is payable directly to the receiving parent.

While child support is payable to the receiving parent, the parties could negotiate how the payment will be made and if agreed to by both parties the payment could be made directly to the child of the case.

The CSA appreciates that this debt relates to a period in the past so we are sensitive to the fact that the paying parent's financial situation may now be different and will take this into account when negotiating a repayment schedule.

What can I do if I am not happy with the CSA decision?

  • Object to our decision within 28 days of receiving the decision. Where greater than 28 days has elapsed from receiving the decision you can request an extension of time. 
  • Whether this is allowed will be determined by the individual circumstances of the case. If dissatisfied with the objection outcome you could appeal the decision to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal (SSAT).
  • Appeal to a court may also be an option however an SSAT decision can only be appealed to court on an error of law. 
Further Information

Further information is available about Estimates of income in The Guide, CSA's online guide to the administration of the new child support scheme. The Guide can be found at  You can also call the CSA on 131 272 to discuss your options.

The Child Support Agency (CSA) has provided this general information to support a better understanding of the Child Support Scheme. To discuss an individual child support case, or for further information, please contact the CSA directly, as specific cases or circumstances will not be discussed in a public forum.
All CSA communications with the forum will be in the form of public posts- the CSA will not be responding to private posts or emails.
Additional information on the Child Support Agency, and details on their participation in this site can be found here
I think most of you have forgotten both you and the Tax Dept can review the past 5 yrs of Tax Returns and only if a pattern is established then up to a 10 yr review can be done. Where this law can be found I dont remember, ask the Tax Dept.

2008  5 = 2003, but the time taken to review 2003 would probably make a 2004 plus review more viable to establish a pattern hence a 10 yr review is in the focus of the reviewing team.

Compensation for detriment caused by defective administration (CDDA) site sounds like a place for a lot of C$A payers to be looking at, so I give the link again, anything that cost the government money will cause them to react quickly.

It appears to be what I just posted on another topic, more fool you if you dont check the C$A calcs and claims.

The number of false claims by C$A personal is higher, I believe, than acknowledged, blamed on computer error or complained about.

This reassessment of Taxable Incomes is just another example of there are more people pay bills without question than there are question the bills that are sent in the mail. There is Law regarding false billing but proving C$A are false billing rather than making unreasonable numbers of errors might be another story.
Without knowing the full circumstances it is really difficult to make a meaningful comment.  By way of a general comment though, because the CSA merely transfers funds from one party to another it seems to me that it has a lower level of accountability back to the Governement than agencies who actually use taxpayer funds to deliver their programs. Also it been a long tim esince the audit office looked at them.  This means that they can easily mislead the politicians by manipulating information to suit.  Their is simply no independant source of information about how well CSA is delivering. So, anything said here is urban mythology because it is not based in fact.  
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