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Tribunal: Member K Buxton

The AAT set aside a decision of a delegate of the Child Support Agency — increasing the father’s liability and departing from the existing assessment.

The parents had care of their school aged child who lived with the mother 86% of the time and the father 14% of the time.

The father had disclosed taxable income of about $37,000 for the 2018-19 year and $36,000 for the 2019-20 year. However, a previous departure decision calculated his child support liability using an annual income of $100,000. The mother’s taxable income was $24,410. When the departure decision ended at the end of August 2019, the father was assessed on a default income of $50,076 and the mother on $21,345.

The father applied for a departure from this decision and the mother cross applied. The outcome of that decision was to increase his adjusted taxable income to $349,000, which was then reduced to $121,735 after he objected.

In this application the father sought a review of the reduced amount, claiming his business was struggling.

By looking at profit and loss statements prepared by his accountant, the Tribunal, established he could access income and financial resources of about $100,000 (consistent with the earlier departure decision).

The Tribunal found it was reasonable to add the father’s business expenses back to his income, which were meeting his and his partner’s personal expenses. This included the costs of purchasing and running two cars that were primarily personal vehicles, as well as depreciation and pre-tax profits.

This created the ground for the AAT to depart from the administrative assessment of child support in place at the time, which did not fairly reflect the income and financial resources available to both parents. The existence of those factors together set this case apart from others, making it unusual.

Read the full decision