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CSA fines and rude comments.

I had an interesting conversation with CSA last week.  I did my tax return this year and even though I tried to do a correct estimate on the 09/10 financial year I underestimated around $5000 for child support.  Even before I received the tax return paper work from the tax office confirming my tax return for 10/11 I received a bill from CSA.  Funny how everything works even before you are made aware of it.

This bill stated that I owed my ex around $1500 and I had to pay CSA $135 dollars as a fine for underestimating.  My ex has a case with CSA and I make private payments to her bank account every f/n.  My first question is, is CSA allowed to fine me when the payments are private collect?

My ex and I have an understanding (via email) that I continue to pay a bit less than CSA states (I would really have to go bankrupt if I had to pay all that CSA estimates) as long as I help out with clothes etc - which I agree.  However she won't agree to it in writting like via a state declaration because she doesn't want to commit to it.  I am worried that for as long as this keeps going she will always have one over me as I live everyday afraid that she will go to CSA and make me pay more - seriously I would loose my house and could not afford to provide for my disabled wife.  So my second question is what should I do?  if I go under COA she will become vindictive and will try and get all that she can, and I tried this a few years ago and CSA just told me spend less on shopping, what type of father am I….

I rang CSA to try and understand how come their new estimate now was higher than my taxable income for 10/11 and she said that they used the 09/10 tax estimate.  I said that that would mean they overestimated for the last 2 months and they said there was nothing I could do as they are allowed and that they sent me a letter to do my estimate before the end of the financial year and that I choose not to reply. I stated that I didn't receive the letter and the woman started shouting at the phone saying "do I have a problem with my mail and mail missing?" I said please don't shout I my ear aches and she just said "well just move the phone away from your head" anyway as she was being so rude, I asked if there was a way I could escalate this and she said "good luck try and find an onbudsman that cares and it would take over 20 years before anything happened".  My third question, can I do something about this?

Finally my last question, what can I do, I can't afford anymore money let alone the fine, I lost quite a bit during the floods and I am still trying to get over the all situation, I can't get the kids when my ex goes on cruises and sends them to the parents, I need help, please help, what can I do when I ring CSA again explaining I can't pay the fine?
Paul72 said
I rang CSA to try and understand how come their new estimate now was higher than my taxable income for 10/11 and she said that they used the 09/10 tax estimate.  I said that that would mean they overestimated for the last 2 months and they said there was nothing I could do as they are allowed and that they sent me a letter to do my estimate before the end of the financial year and that I choose not to reply. I stated that I didn't receive the letter and the woman started shouting at the phone saying "do I have a problem with my mail and mail missing?" I said please don't shout I my ear aches and she just said "well just move the phone away from your head" anyway as she was being so rude, I asked if there was a way I could escalate this and she said "good luck try and find an onbudsman that cares and it would take over 20 years before anything happened".  My third question, can I do something about this?
You can and you should

Firstly, ring the CSA Complaints line and complain about your treatment by that officer - if you know the date and time, they will be able to find the recording of the conversation.
Going by your account of the conversation, she has contravened the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct in her treatment of you.

You should also lodge a complaint about not receiving that letter which was clearly very important to your CSA case.

Once you have the results of the complaints (insist that they provide them in writing) lodge another complaint about the incident to the Commonwealth Ombudsman - contrary to what the Troll told you, the CO is very interested in the antics of the CSA.

Mike T may have further advise when he sees your post.
Paul72 said
This bill stated that I owed my ex around $1500 and I had to pay CSA $135 dollars as a fine for underestimating.  My ex has a case with CSA and I make private payments to her bank account every f/n.  My first question is, is CSA allowed to fine me when the payments are private collect?

The answer is yes they can if the reconciled amount is 110% or more of the estimated amount. If submitting an estimate you should consider this and if you are likely to be fined submit subsequent estimates (don't expect the CSA to warn you as they are in the business of taxing liable parents as much as they can). Here's an extract from the CSA guide:-

The CSA Guide - 2.5.1: Income estimates for a year of income (extract) said
Estimate penalties

A person will be required to pay an estimate penalty when CSA reconciles their estimate and their actual income for a year of income less any applicable year to date income amount is 110%, or more, of their estimated ATI for the year (section 64AF).

The penalty is 10% of the difference between the liability that would have applied if the original estimate or estimates was used to calculate the assessment, and the assessment(s) amended under section 64AA following reconciliation (section 64AG(1)). An estimate penalty is a debt due to the Commonwealth (section 64AG(2)).

Remission of estimate penalties

CSA can remit an estimate penalty, either in whole or in part, (section 64AH(1)) where:

    the difference between the adjusted taxable income amount and the estimated income was due to an amendment of the tax legislation, or a change to a ruling or determination under the tax legislation, or
    CSA is satisfied that it would be fair and reasonable to remit the penalties in the circumstances.

Amendment of a tax law, ruling or determination

When making an estimate, a parent cannot be expected to know that a change to the tax legislation or a change to a ruling or determination will increase their adjusted taxable income.

Example

If an expense that was deductible in previous years is no longer deductible, a parents taxable income may be higher than their estimate by the amount of the deduction.


This does not apply where a parents taxable income is amended for other reasons (for example, taxpayer error).
Fair and reasonable to remit the penalties in the circumstances

What is fair and reasonable depends on the circumstances of each case. Those circumstances do not need to be special, exceptional or unusual. CSA will remit estimate penalties if it considers the parent did not intentionally misuse the estimate provisions.

CSA may consider remitting if the person inadvertently underestimated or had some good reason for not correctly managing their income estimate during the year, such that it would not be fair to penalise them for the estimate being inaccurate.

CSA will consider whether a parent was or should have been aware of the conditions and implications of using an estimate.

A parent should use reasonable care and all information available to estimate their income. If their circumstances change, they should advise CSA of the change in circumstances and make a new estimate.

CSA will not remit an estimate penalty unless a parent has a reasonable explanation for failing to make a new estimate when their circumstances changed.

Example

Example

M made their first estimate when their hours of work were reduced due to a fall in business for the company. M made a second estimate when they lost their job because the company stopped trading.  M was not sure if they would receive a termination payment, and did not include such a payment in their second estimate. M did in fact receive a termination payment of $9,000 on 30 May. As their ongoing circumstances had not changed M did not contact CSA about the payment.

Ms actual income was higher than their estimated income so the estimate was reconciled, the assessment amended and an estimate penalty imposed. M contacted CSA and requested the estimate penalty be remitted. CSA considered the facts of the case and decided it would be fair and reasonable to remit the penalty, as M had not intentionally misused the estimate provisions.


CSA will remove any penalty that has been imposed incorrectly (for example, through error or miscalculation, or by a subsequent variation which decreases the liability).

If CSA makes a decision to remit only part of the penalty, or to not remit any part of the penalty, it must give written notice of that decision to the parent required to pay the penalty. The parent may object to that decision (section 64AH(2)).

Here's a link to the relevant section of the CSA guide regarding Income Estimates. 2.5.1: Income estimates for a year of income

Paul72 said
So my second question is what should I do?  if I go under COA she will become vindictive and will try and get all that she can, and I tried this a few years ago and CSA just told me spend less on shopping, what type of father am I….
If there was a good chance that the CSA would properly apply the legislation then I say go for COA under reason 7 (Reason 7 - necessary commitments of self-support) and/or reason 9 (Reason 9 - the duty to maintain any other child or another person). However, there is not that much of a good chance with either the CSA or with SSAT as these both appear to be hell-bent on ignoring the very object of the legislation and implementing their own policy of trying to extract whatever they can from the liable parent, especially through COA. Your best chance would be to endure the stress of both the CSA and the SSAT in the hope that you could take the matter to court on a matter of law and with the hope that you could convince the court that you're not trying to renege on your commitments. I hate to say it that in all likelihood you are likely to be better off not trying for COA as it's very clear that the system is not at all about the support of children but about a tax in all but name via the claw-back of FTB (i.e. for a $1 paid in CS 50c is clawed back by the way of a corresponding reduction in FTB). Section 2.6 of the guide covers COA.

In addition to complaining about the disrespect given and therefore the contravention of the APS legislation/guidelines you should also complain that the officer failed in their duty to provide the correct information in regards to making a complaint; yet another breach of the APS legislation/guidelines.

seriously said
Once you have the results of the complaints (insist that they provide them in writing) lodge another complaint about the incident to the Commonwealth Ombudsman - contrary to what the Troll told you, the CO is very interested in the antics of the CSA.
I'd suggest not waiting for any results from the complaints officer, just concurrently go to the Ombudsman. Additionally and again concurrently complain to your local Federal MP and also the minister for the portfolio; Tanya Plibersek.

Tanya Plibersek - Human Services Minister contact details

Suite M1.24
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

    Phone: (02) 6277 7200
    Fax (02) 6273 4406
    Email: minister@humanservices.gov.au

NB: for any meeting and event or speech requests, please email us at minister.requests@humanservices.gov.au


If it were myself I would also make a claim for compensation through the Compensation for Detriment caused by Deficient Administration scheme (CDDA). I'd claim for costs for the time etc for having to complain. You'll not get compensation. However, you may add another straw that the "camel of accountability" has to carry. Section 6.11.1 in the guide covers compensation claims.

You could also demand, due to the appalling actions of the officer, that you become a "write only" customer.
I have received a similar fine but mine is $160. However the circumstances of mine is a little different.

My estimate of income was $50,000. However I was making considerably less. I was on workers comp and had my repayments reduced from September 2010. I did not update CSA as I was hoping to have them reinstated and back payed. However by June 2011 I realised this was not going to happen.

I rang CSA to update my estimate of income. This took several calls as I had an investment property they wanted details of and they needed my income to date. In all the confusion (lets be honest who does not find talking to CSA confusing) they managed to put down my year to date at $14,000 and my estimate for the financial year at $30,000.

When my tax return came in it was $32,000, within the 10%. But CSA claim I owe $1200 to my ex for the month of June because I made $16,000. Their reasoning. My YTD on the first of June was $14,000 so I must have made $18,000 in the month of June for my tax return to show $32,000.

I asked them if they had any proof I made $18,000 in June and all they could say was the computer consolidated my income. I pointed out my estimate for the whole year was $30,000 and my actual was $32,000 so I was not over 10%. They still said I estimated wrong. I pointed out that it was only an estimate. Their answer was I estimated wrong.

It defies logic. I put in a dispute. I received an account payable.

I worked out that to get an estimate of $30,000 I had to give them all details of my finances. So my estimate was not wrong. Their answer was I estimated wrong.

My final plea was I only changed my estimate in the month of June. It was supposed to be for 4 weeks. Prior to that I was paying child support based on an income of $965 weekly, even though I was only making $496. The change in June was to $496 to reflect my true income. So I have paid more than my fair share. Their answer to this. My estimate was wrong.
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