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Tribunal: Member K Buxton

In this case, the AAT affirmed a decision under review to apply a fixed annual rate of child support, rather than the lower minimum annual rate, on the basis of the actual income of the applicant.

The applicant and his former wife are parents to a child and had in place an agreement where the father was assessed to pay child support to the mother. In 2020, the father reported to the Child Support Agency (the Agency) that he was no longer employed and his new assessable income was recorded as $0. On the basis of that income and the applicant’s circumstances, the applicant would ordinarily be assessed to pay a fixed annual rate of child support of $1,443 per annum. At the same time as lodging his estimate of income, the applicant applied to have the fixed annual rate reduced to the minimum annual rate of $435 per annum.

After accepting the applicant’s reduced income estimate, the Agency decided to apply the minimum annual rate of child support of $435 per annum for the remainder of the income year. The other parent objected to this new arrangement and the Agency upheld the objection and substituted its original decision and applied a fixed annual rate instead.

The applicant then applied to the AAT for a review where the Tribunal noted that, where the paying parent has a low taxable income, the Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 (the Act) provides for a fixed rate of child support to apply in certain circumstances. However, a parent may request that the fixed annual rate not be applied in certain circumstances and that the lower minimum rate apply instead. The AAT heard from the applicant details of his income changes and the effects this has had on his ability to continue paying child support at the fixed rate.

The AAT found that in order for the fixed annual rate to be reduced, the applicant’s income during the relevant period would need to be less than the amount prescribed in the legislation. The AAT was not satisfied that the applicant’s income during the relevant period was less that prescribed amount, and so the decision to apply the fixed annual rate was correct.

The Tribunal also noted that, as a result of a subsequent departure decision, neither the minimum annual rate nor the fixed annual rate was now applied to the child support case for the relevant period.

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