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payer out of work, how can they demand payers spouses income to assess & pay?

Do they have the right to demand income details from the spouse of a payer who is currently unemployed?

The form that the payer received asks for ALL household incomes….. so in this families case the payer is earning NIL, his spouse is receiving Parenting Payment Partnered and she also receives Family Tax Benefits for her 8 children.  The form then asks for HIS expenses and whether they are joint or sole, which she has a HUGE problem with because ALL of the bills (mortgage, electricity, Phone, Rates etc) are in HER name and and are not joint with him because he only moved in with her 8 months ago.  CSA told her that they can use HER income (and yes that includes all government payments) to not only assess her spouses "capacity to pay" but will also be used to form the new "assessment period" on because the ex is use to receiving more C$.

They still have to live too, does C$A not see that?  Does anyone have any suggestions?  Should she fill in the form?
No, spouse should NOT and does not have to provide any income details on any form. Fact is that the CSA already have spousal income information from the tax return they use for the payer (there is a box you tick when you have a spouse for the financial year and that summary of their income tax return is included in the payer's tax information retrieved by CSA).

However, they cannot base a new child support assessment on payer's spouse income. Only biological parents are responsible for child support. Sounds to me like a scare tactic. If you become unemployed for reasons other than avoiding child support, you can provide evidence that your income has dropped because of it.

My tip on filling out forms is this: provide as generic and as little information as possible. Just enough to state your case.

Privacy when there is second wives & spouses

In reply to Babushka, when the payer completes his taxation form, NEVER EVER tick the box that includes a spouse, then CSA do not have the entitlement to go and get a private individual's information from the Taxation Department, as they would be seriously contravening the Privacy Act 1988.

My mother has been married to my father for over 60 years and fills in a separate taxation assessment and has never been included on my Dad's taxation as his spouse. She worked in her own right all her life and retired on her own superannuation…. a truly independent lady!

Unless you are claiming benefits as a dependent etc, I just don't see the point. I have never had to be my second husband's spouse as I earn and pay tax separately as an independent person.
Never disclosed any other information to the CSA than the payers tax return.

It does not matter what you do as the C$A will access a payers partner's Tax and Centrelink records whether it is lawful or not.

The only time this should be done if you are in a SSAT, AAT or court review/appeal.

Only give information as it relates to the payer, never the payee.
KazScorpio - regarding the box to tick concerning the spouse for the financial year, my first inclination is that there is some relation between private health insurance or Medicare associated to this. I might be completely wrong, and I will ring our tax agent and ask this questions, but our tax agent automatically fills in that box for some reason. Consequently our private health insurance details are included in the tax return accessed by the CSA (which also includes the tax information for spouse).

In our personal case I had contacted the ATO and was advised that my personal tax info is not "flagged" to be accessed by the CSA, but my info was included in my husbands (payer) tax return anyway. So in essence CSA did not access my file (payer's spouse) as such, at least that I am aware of.
The issue of CSA freely and automatically accessing ATO records for purposes other than calculating the amount of CS liability is one which must erupt one day.  Sec SPCA, how about an emerging issue on this one?  
Well the only way you will know what C$A do is to have a SSAT appeal and then look through the C$A file provided. I did this recently and saw a hand written note in the file requesting information from the ATO regarding my wife after I had clearly indicated to them that she did not give permission to them to do so.
Hi Fairgo, have you taken that invasion of privacy further.  Would the person who wrote that request to the ATO gone against the Public Service Code of Conduct.  
Fairgo, all it takes is a hint from your ex about alientation of income, for CSA's financial investigators to search your wife's ATO records.

In our case, my husband's ex said we were running a business in my name (which was correct) and that all monies ran through my name (also correct). Obviously the ex was savvy enough to point this out, however the reason the business was in my name was for credit purposes only. The business clearly needed both of us to run it.

And as we pointed out, the profit from the business, when halved still only constituted a minimal annual rate for my husband.  I have since demanded CSA request my permission before they raid my ATO records (and declare them in a document which may be read by all and sundry) in future, but, apparently their powers will overrule my demands at the slightest hint by anyone of alientation.
Even though a spouse's income is not assessable, CSA has a quirky way of bringing it into the equation.  For instance, most people in a married or partnered situation rarely keep their individual incomes for themselves - it's often shared.  So how are you supposed to say or prove that a paying parent's expenses are exactly half of all household expenses?  Eg, I own 2 horses (which were not mentioned in my husband's expenses), yet our combined income helps pay for them.

But if your income does not adequately pay for your share of the expenses then you come under fire for 'hidden resources'.  The system is mental.

ajae said
But if your income does not adequately pay for your share of the expenses then you come under fire for 'hidden resources'.  The system is mental.
That is exactly what happened to me:
"You've provided financial information to show that your income has reduced dramatically and is now several thousand dollars short of meeting your expenses and your partner is making up the difference. Therefore you can pay several thousand dollars more in CS."

Getting to the SSAT and obtaining the CSA file seems like a good idea - info contained in there could be used in a complaint to the Ombudsman - pointing out:
The amount of taxpayer money CSA is wasting to chase small amounts of CS,
That this must surely be driven by CSA employees chasing their bonus as the $ spent can not be justified by the return
The stress that is caused to people having to defend themselves against CSA pig-dog tactics
The time that is wasted defending against these tactics
Be very careful how you use SSAT information as they usually issue you with an order that no information from the appeal can be disclosed to any other party. If making a complaint you may be able to refer to a scenario but not use SSAT docs directly.

If we want C$A to mostly disappear within the next 10 years we need to give the decision makers ideas on how to achieve this.

Use the appeals process to the max when we believe a decision is unfair, wrong or unprofessional. Be write only clients to keep them accountable for their decisions and processes.

We need to show how the collection mentality of this organisation is very damaging to families as well as very costly.

Now that C$A and Family Assistance are aligned for the calculation of child support liability and Family benefits we can easily show just how different the two organisations go about their business to do the same thing.

I can clearly see now that most of C$A can be made redundant with Family Assistance taking over most functions.
Fairgo said
Be write only clients to keep them accountable for their decisions and processes.
How does one go about becoming a write-only client?

The 2010 Tax Return

Looking at the 2010 Tax Return, the check box referred to relating to SPOUSE is on page 4 of the return.

Checking Y in the box will do one of two things on the electronic lodgement.

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If the Tax Agent or Financial Advisor has the Spouse as a client it will bring in data from the related client account on the system and link the files. It inserts Earnings and a range of other information.
If the Spouse is not a client of the Tax Agent or Financial Advisor it will ask for the full name and Date of Birth of the Spouse. From that I assume the ATO will link the correct TFN.

IF the CSA have been notified of a new filing of return and are looking at your tax file through the ATO system to make any changes to payment rates, I presume they would be able to look at that coupling and if desired pull up the related TFN holder.

The issues are problematic when a spouse is targeted for funds recovery on behalf of a linked payer.

We will need to make enquiries about a number of issues that arise from this linkage. Are CSA entitled, under legislation to look at the spouse TFN details just because they have access to the Payer or Payee TFN? There are more questions than answers currently. How far reaching is the impact of checking that "Spouse" box? What privacy rules apply?

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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The ATO are also asking for child support paid figures on the return. Only way to get that right is to send C$A a letter requesting a statement for the financial year.

You can become a write only client if you inform them that you will only correspond with them in writing. (snail mail) Don't bother trying to email then as they wont respond.
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