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CSA, the FBT and studying for work

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I have a question relating to the addition of a FBT onto my gross taxable income because I was paid to study for work…

As a background, I broke up with my ex in 2005, and in 2005, I returned to University (external) to study, and my place of work identified that it would help me complete my degree by paying for half of my up front costs for study as it related directly to my job, IF I passed the subjects! Awesome!

In the second half of 2005 and the first half of 2006, I studied part/full time and it cost me $6,000 (out of my own pay). Work then paid me $3,000 back as it was half my up front costs, and I passed the subjects.

What this did though, was add about $5,400 ON to my gross for the year in the form of Fringe Benefit Tax (calculated roughly as the $3,000 * 1.8)… so in my opinion, it cost me $3,000 to go to Uni, and my gross was inflated by $5,400 "for the purposes of child support." - this actually led to my paying an extra $1,000 odd in child support, which really sucked as my true wage was much lower.

I have had many arguments with the CSA stating that the FBT wasn't actually for any benefits that I received (and that I could prove it conclusively with letters, etc from work), and that it wasn't a true reflection of my income…

I have pointed out as well that I could have actually made about $18,000 MORE by getting a second job, and not pay ANY child support as you can earn up to 30% more on your wage that is excluded (for the purposes of child support) in the first three years after break up… so in my opinion, having the FBT not included in the assessment for Child Support wasn't that big a deal, as I didn't actually receive any benefits (I had to spend $6,000 to get $3,000).

The CSA continually focus on the fact that the my estimate of income would only drop 14.8% (and not the minimum required 15% in the first year) therefore the could not reassess my income to be lower.

I have tried to point out continuously that I am not asking for a reassessment of income, but rather a waiver on the FBT amount because I didn't actually receive any benefits and doesn't reflect true income.

I said that I would be put in a request for reassessment and have been told (on the phone) many times that "you are wasting your time" and "it won't do you any good." as "your wage wont drop the minimum 15% and will fail reassessment."

My first question is, how can they make a decision without seeing anything in writing from myself in the form of a reassessment application??? I was told quite bluntly, that the first point of call for the reassessment was my case officer, and they would reject it straight up.

I have also, continously, asked for this in writing, and the case (or "issues") officers simply refuse to provide ANYTHING in writing to the effect…

Under what grounds can I actually have this stuff looked at and reassessed? It seems weird I could earn $18,000 and not pay any more child support, but spend $3,000 and pay $1,000 in child support.

Maybe I am being too simplistic - but I would really appreciate any advice, suggestions (am I really being daft?) or guidelines that would help me settle this stuff once and for all.

As a final note, I am aware that it is way beyond the 18 month period - BUT, they took a further $320 out of my pay just six months ago for debts owing in 2006 (for the actual period in question)… I asked for reasons in writing for the debt and reasons for recovery (that they garnished from my pay directly) and was told that they will not provide anything in writing… I am at a loss to work out where accountability lies… :(
You could put in a Change of Assessment application under Reason 8 citing the payment of half of your Uni fees by your employer as "Special Circumstances" and that it is unfair to have to pay child support on that amount.

The success of you application will depend on how well off your ex and children are as this will give the ex an opportunity to make a counter claim for more child support.

If this fails then Object to the decision and request a review.

If this does not work out then appeal to the SSAT.

If the SSAT appeal does not work out appeal their decision to the Federal Magistrates Court.

This process may take a year but it is worth the effort as the court would more than likely see the logic in your argument then C$A or the SSAT.

The SSAT does not always fully consider the relevant legislation so getting the appeal to the court on a point of law should not be a problem.

If you win your case then the SSAT and C$A have another decision against them. The more the better if we want a fairer system in the future.

Also stop talking to C$A over the phone. They like to use the phone to gather lots of information and frustrate payers into giving up and that their decisions are absolute.

They actually dislike the Magistrates court or Administrative Appeals Tribunal for the large amount of their decisions that are overturned.

Instead do everything in writing and only use the phone for obtaining general information. If you want to nail them in court you will need everything in writing.

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