Since July 2016 Centrelink has been using a new online system to obtain information from people whose Tax office records do not match the income they reported to Centrelink, it also assesses and calculates any debts owed.
If you have received a letter – saying “Important information about your employment income”, it has the information Centrelink has received from the Tax office and asks you to log into your myGov account and view your Centrelink online account. You need to review the information before a certain date, a reminder letter will be sent to you about a week before the deadline.
You have to respond to the letter online, however if you don’t have a myGov account you will need to set one up or you can contact Centrelink and request assistance to set one up, as you still need to respond online to the letter.
Does the letter mean you have a debt? Not necessarily, what it is saying is that the Centrelink records and Tax office records are different and there may be a simple explanation for this. Once online you can confirm or make changes for each job and dates you have worked, you do not need documentation from your employer if you can give accurate information. If you need more time to check the details you can ask for an extension of time (twice) on line.
If you do not go online before the deadline, the system will automatically assess and calculate a debt by averaging the total income on the Tax office records. This also applies if you go online and confirm that the ATO information is correct but don’t enter the details of your income and pay period.
After you have updated your information the system works out if you have a debt, if this does not seem right, you can go back and review your answers, and if you are still unsure you can click on the link and request a specialist Centrelink officer to call you within 7 days.
If you agree with the debt and the 10% recovery fee, you can make a payment arrangement, however it is important to keep to the arrangement and make payments by the due date, otherwise you may be charged interest.
You can appeal a debt, recovery fee or interest charge, for free, to a Centrelink Authorised Review Officer and, if your appeal is unsuccessful you can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. For more information you can contact your local Welfare Rights service, contact details can be found at www.welfarerights.org.au
Should you have a debt and need assistance in making a sustainable payment arrangement, contact Midlas on 9250 2123 for a Financial Counselling appointment.
Midlas Mission: We partner with individuals and organisations to promote independence, strength and wellbeing in our community through support, advocacy and education.