Tribunal: Member Dominique Grigg

Individuals may be eligible for the parenting payment or family tax benefit (FTB) if, among other requirements, they have at least one FTB child and are an Australian resident.[1] The applicant started receiving parenting payments and the family tax benefit from September 2013 on the basis that he had 100 per cent care of his child.

In January 2018, Centrelink became aware the child had left the applicant’s care and control from 2015-17. The applicant was therefore not entitled to the benefits he was receiving and had been overpaid for a period of time. Centrelink determined the applicant owed a total of $31,799.87 in overpayments. The applicant requested an internal review of the decision and this was unsuccessful. The applicant then applied to the AAT for a review of that decision.

An applicant’s debt may be written off, or waived, in certain circumstances, including if he has no capacity to repay the debt,[2] if the debt arose due to administrative error made by the Commonwealth, or if there are special circumstances which make it desirable to waive the debt.[3] The primary issue for the AAT, in this matter, was whether the debt should be written off for one of these reasons.

The applicant claimed his debt should be waived because he was experiencing severe financial hardship, had a mental health condition and because representations made to him by Centrelink led him to believe he did not have to alert them to the child’s absence.

After considering the evidence, the AAT concluded there was no basis for the debt to be written off or waived. The AAT cited a lack of corroborating evidence for the applicant’s claims throughout the decision and the AAT also found some of the applicant’s evidence contradictory. 

The AAT affirmed the decision.

Read the full decision on AustLII.

 

[1] Section 21 of the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999.

[2] Section 95(2) of the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999.

[3] Section 97 of the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999.