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CSA Online Portal

 
I don't really know where to start because of my frustration with the CSA.  My husband has twins aged 16, living with their mother. He's been separated from her since 2003.  He and I have been together since 2009.  I have an 11 year old I receive CS for in a 5-year agreement and now we are expecting twins in the next couple of weeks.

When I first met him, he was very neglectful with his CS payments, as she had lodged a COA which was granted in her favour and he disagreed with the outcome as he said that she had lied about how he got his income and as he never received letter from the CSA, he didn't know of the outcome until it was too late (it was sent to an old address). Regardless he hadn't met his obligations nor did he lodge an appeal.

Since being together, I have helped him make some inroads into paying off his debt and this financial year, I filed all of his past year tax returns which he hadn't lodged as he had buried his head in the sand.

To cut the long story short, he had just over $10K in CS debt (with another $11K in penalties).  Once all the past year returns had been filed as well as 2011, CSA intercepted all the refunds which totalled to about $9K, in effect reducing his debt considerably.  This was expected and we were glad that the debt was being reduced, especially with our new babies on the way.

As my husband is not the best at correspondence, I do all of this via the online portal (which I find very archaic to say the least) and sometimes when he gets home, we make the phone call together and he gives permission for me to talk to them, as a lot of what they say is gobbledy gook.

Well, 2 months ago through the online portal, I requested a transaction summary from 2003 to current, it shows it's been printed but still nothing is received.  I lodge a complaint through the portal, still nothing. Then we talk to a CSO (who surprisingly is very helpful in sorting the confusing paperwork that's been sent - the purpose of our call), he says he will put it in the post. This was two weeks ago, online portal shows it's been printed but we still haven't received it. I lodge another complaint and today receive a response saying apologies for the delay, it's now printed and will be sent today in the post.

At the same time, I notice that there are other letters that have been printed which have not been received.  I also then notice an unread letter, it says there has been a reconciliation on the estimate from 18 Nov 2010 to 30 Jun 2011 and the amount used is nearly $10K above what the taxable amount for the whole financial year.  I have lodged an objection through the portal. But I don't understand why they would use a reconciliation estimate when they have the actual taxable amount as the tax returns have been lodged with the ATO and they have already intercepted the refund? This also means that now even though his debt was being reduced from the tax intercepts, in effect another $5K has been added to the debt making it all pointless, and this is sent in another online letter prior to the letter I just mentioned.

Which then brings me on to another frustrating and stupid thing they have done which we just had to agree with.  From the 1 July to 1 Sept 2011, we had to agree for them to use the 2010 income even though they had the 2011 income in front of them as they said that it was outside the child support period they had for him.  From 1 Sept 2011 they will use his 2011 income.  We were given the option to make an estimate but then the estimate would be for the entire period and not just from 1 July to 1 Sept so it means that for these three months, my husband is liable to pay double what we had budgeted to pay (and it does not accurately reflect the income he is currently earning) and we have two new babies arriving!!!!

Obviously, I know the payments will reduce when the bubs arrive, but not by much! What makes us cranky though is that we know hardly any of the money is going towards the teenage twins.  Just the other day, the daughter told her father how she had to beg for a pair of converse and that mum was out at the club drinking most nights! On top of which, the ex lost her job a 6 months ago, because late last year she had broken her leg and even though it's better now, she "can't work" and is now on Centrelink payments.

But I digress, what I'm really wanting some comment on, is about the online portal ie. it seems a good idea in theory but it doesn't seem to be utilised nor maintained in any regularity or ease of general use.

Also some thoughts on how we can go about reconciling husbands accounts with CSA, their paperwork is extremely confusing and out of whack - is there a specialist anyone can recommend - we are in SW Sydney.

PS: I will add that I'm not working and so we are heavily reliant on hubby's income to meet our expenses and yes I know we will get the baby bonus x 2 but we will need this for the babies things which we are putting off getting until they're born, car seats, nappies etc….
I had a similar problem the C$A online and ended up just relying on snail mail.

Just wondering if C$A remitted the penalties as the arrears were recovered?
I don't use the online portal and I never will. It's far too easy for the CSA to falsify a trail if the only record is electronic. Let's face it, they have a long history of dishonest dealing even in black and white, so why would anyone trust them with a medium that can be changed and manipulated?

My approach is simple: correspond only in writing, hand deliver each letter and demand a stamped, receipted copy from the desk clerk.

Correspondece from them only in writing and the envelope kept with the letter to demonstrate clearly the huge delay between the letter being written and the date it was posted. This delay is typically 5-7 days and as the CSA demands a response within 7 days to many of their letters, this means that one is effectively prevented from responding within the timeframe allowed. By retaining the envelope this is made obvious. I actually go one step further and have the letters delivered to a friend's address, where he signs the envelope with the date received before passing it on.

Sadly, these are the lengths one needs to go to in this once-great nation to protect oneself from the excesses of a bureaucracy that thinks it's above the law.
We have had the exact same problem with the online portal. My partner requested a transaction summary that he needed for a property settlement via the online portal, next day it said on the portal it was 'printed' but we never received it.

We lodged an objection to a COA via the online portal and they never acknowledged it until they received the a hard copy that we posted as well. Now I send hard copies of everything we lodge on the portal, as it seems to be the only way they will acknowledge anything. I also take screen shots of the conformation the portal gives us when we upload something.

About to put in a complaint about them not sending of the transaction summary, probably won't amount to much.
Fairgo said
Just wondering if C$A remitted the penalties as the arrears were recovered?

Not yet, but apparently once all of the arrears are recovered, then they will - he is on a payment arrangement and each time we speak to them, they mention that once it's paid off, they will take off the penalties. However as they keep adding arrears, the debt just doesn't seem to go away and the penalties will no doubt remain.

Frenzy said
We lodged an objection to a COA via the online portal and they never acknowledged it until they received the a hard copy that we posted as well. Now I send hard copies of everything we lodge on the portal, as it seems to be the only way they will acknowledge anything. I also take screen shots of the conformation the portal gives us when we upload something.

About to put in a complaint about them not sending of the transaction summary, probably won't amount to much.

I have been thinking that I will put in another objection via snail mail as well - often we have just lodged the objection over the phone but after reading all the comments on here, now I don't think this is a good idea.

About the complaint, my first complaint wasn't ever acknowledged. My second complaint I received an apology - wow wee, thanks…


I had the same problem with C$A taking their time to acknowledge items submitted via the portal so I started sending copies of things via snail mail and fax. I also kept submitting the items via the portal every day until they eventually acknowledged receipt.  My record so far is 19 online requests for one topic :-)

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