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   Hi,first time post.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Some background info first.
I have been paying child support for over 10 years on a private collect basis with the CSA sending me a yearly assessment after i have lodged my tax return basically
to say this is what you should be paying.Both myself and the ex have have pretty much gone with this without too many dramas.I give her extra money at times to
cover extra expenses such as medication,school needs etc.I have plenty of access to my children having them overnight every second weekend and also having them 2
days per week after school till bedtime when i drop them home every week.
   June of this year my employer advised me that the company was reducing my hours from 38/week to 30hrs/week due to a lack of work.I phoned CSA to advise of a
drop of income knowing this would reduce my child support payments so they could send out a new assessment based on my new reduced income to myself and the ex
because i knew she would not be happy with this drop in payments i wanted to go through the correct channels.
   Unfortunately i made a pretty big mistake.The CSA oprerator on the phone said yes your child support payments will drop because of a reduced income but to put it through
the system i need your YTD,he asked if i had a recent payslip to tell him the YTD unfortunately i only had a payslip from a couple of months ago on me at that time but
he said we would still be ok to use it,that was the beginning of my mistake.
   When he asked what my YTD was on my payslip at that time i gave him a figure that was printed on it but neglecting to add up other YTD columns i gave an incorrect
YTD so a couple of weeks later when i lodged my tax the CSA has seen i earnt approx $9000 more than the figure i gave them..Whoops!
   Ok so i thought this will be a easy fix i'll call them up and sort it out…wrong!They hit me with an $800 arrears  and a $78 penalty.I tried to explain that it was a simple
mistake and that they know i didnt earn any extra money because they had my 2010/11 tax return but no it was my fault so theres nothing i can do.My ex accused me
of taking some long service leave and trying to hide the money,i tried to explain the mistake i had made even going as far as saying i'd show her my payslips but no she wasn't having
any of that,she said she was forced into contacting CSA to recoup the $800 because she knew i wasn't going to give her the money and why should i?
   I know $800 is not a huge amount but it still hurts to give it away.So because of this all child support goes through the CSA,i have been repaying the arrears an extra $20/week,
my ex and i relationship has soured greatly,she even took the step of asking CSA to garnish my wages,a couple of excruciating phone calls to CSA i now have the power
to pay child support my way,ie Bpay.I did object my arrears,i sent a letter to them explaining the mistake i had made,i made countless phone calls to CSA to see how my
objection was going they told me so many different stories,some would say its been passed on to a case manager or no we haven't received your objection letter it was
getting ridiculous.When i did finally hear back from them they told me under such and such legislation you cannot object,ok i said just relieved it had an outcome even though
it wasn't positive.CSA then had the hide to send me a letter the very next day thanking me for withdrawing the objection!!
   So obviously i have learnt that CSA are extremely difficult to deal with which leads me to the main reason i am writing this post.My employer has told me i will be returning
back to a normal 38 hrs/week as of next week,i had envisaged my hours wouldnt increase until maybe next year.When i originally phoned CSA i gave them my 30 hour/week
gross income figure which they calculated my estimated yearly income.So now my hours are going back up so obviously my weekly pay so therefore i must contact CSA to
let them know of my change of worried about doing this,i dont want to make any mistakes in trying to work out what my income is going to be come end of financial
year next year,its obviously going to be less than last years income but im no accountant trust me.
    Apologies for the long post,i am just looking for some suggestions on what would be the best way to contact CSA,either through telephone or advising them in writing.I'd
much prefer to speak to them face to face,i noticed they have offices in all major that possible?
    Thanks for your time.
              the $800 arrears is correct. If you'd have given the total YTD's then you would have paid the extra $800. However, I do believe that the CSA may well be at fault in regards to what they requested from you. The CSA Guide says:

The CSA Guide - 2.5.1: Income estimates for a year of income said
The parent must inform CSA of their estimated income for each income component amount for the remaining period (section 60(3)(a)). The remaining period is from the start date of the income estimate election to the end of the year of income (section 60(4)). The total of the parents income component amounts for the remaining period is their partial year income amount (section 60(4)). They must also inform CSA of their year to date income, that is, the total of the income component amounts they have received from the beginning of the year of income to the day before the start day of the income estimate election (section 60(3)(b)).

As such the CSA, to correctly follow the legislation, should have rejected/not use a YTD. They should have requested what you would receive in the remaining period. I'd suggest a) making a complaint that the CSA did not adhere to section 60(3)(a) by requesting YTD information when they should have requested the amount you would earn in the remaining period and b) asking for the matter to also be considered by the compensation officer under the Compensation for Detriment due to Defective Administration  scheme (CDDA), you might then get the $78 back.

As for what to do now. If you are currently on an estimated income i.e. YOU have submitted an estimate for the 2011-2012 tax year and you know it will be an under estimate then submit a re-estimate and keep doing so to ensure that your income isn't under estimated then you should avoid any arrears. If you are currently not on an estimate for 2011-2012 then do nothing as your assessment for 2011-2012 will be based upon your tax return for 2010-2011 and that is in-line with the legislation.

It is always suggested that you never rely on a telephone conversation for anything that may affect the CS, as it is abundantly clear that the wrong advice is provided far too frequently. Furthermore, many of the staff do not adhere to the APS Guidelines and abuse customers (e.g. today we had a post where a CSA abused a customer by disrespecting them) I personally use CSA Online and am a "Write Only" customer. I'd suggest that you'd not likely get any better service visiting an office. However, I've not done that for personal CS issues. The one-time I did go to an office was for a meeting and to be honest the customer abuse was far worse. The State Director blatantly lied to all persons and attempted to obtain personal information in contravention of the Privacy Act. I believe there was also an article in the news where the CSA tried to or threatened to report a parent to DoCS as the parent took the child to a CSA Office to prove that the parent did in fact have care of the child. Saying that, the CSA website does have a "Visit Us" link. You select "Parents and Carers", the "Our Services for You" and then "Visit Us". This lists the addresses of the offices.
Thanks Mike,very helpful.
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