A mother is concerned that her ex-partner's salary sacrificing has not been reflected in her child-support assessment ('Beware of Hidden Deductions', Your Views, August 2008).
Currently, the Australians taxation system doesn't enable the Child Support Agency (CSA) automatically to address income-reduction strategies such as salary sacrificing. These strategies must be dealt with through CSA's compliance program, which investigates a parent's capacity to pay, or by either parent applying for a change of assessment. Anyone can advise CSA's compliance program of intelligence anonymously through the Australian Government Services Fraud Tip-off Line on 131 524.
From 1 July 2009, however, it is proposed that the definition of income for child support will include certain 'salary sacrificed' contributions to superannuation. This will allow the CSA automatically to add salary-sacrificed amounts to a parent's income for child-support purposes, ensuring more accurate assessments and avoiding extra work for affected parents.
If a parent believes his/her child-support assessment doesn't reflect their, their children's or the other parent's special circumstances, they may be able to apply to the CSA for a change of assessment. Claims made in change-of-assessment applications generally require supporting evidence, however CSA can conduct further enquiries to ensure a fair and equitable decision is made. We welcome calls from parents seeking advice on change-of-assessment matters on 131 272.
As part of the reforms to the Child Support Scheme, the CSA is focusing on ensuring child-support assessments are accurate and that parents meet their child-support responsibilities. The CSA has released a new child support compliance strategy, CSA: supporting parents to meet their child support responsibilities 2008-2010, that explains our approach. More information on the compliance strategy is available at www.csa.gov.au
The letter-writer spoke about her lost earnings while raising children. Some parents in this situation may be able to apply for a court to order a former spouse to pay financial support. This is called spousal maintenance, and information on how to apply for it is found at www.familylawcourts.gov.au.
Samantha Palmer, Deputy General Manager, Child Support Agency