Many of you may have heard in the news recently about Centrelink sending debt recovery letters to many government benefit recipients, including Family Tax Benefit recipients. This can be a distressing time for the families when they realise they may have to repay the overpayments.
What many people aren’t aware is that Centrelink relies on the income information we provide to make their benefit calculations, and if the information they have is out of date, over or under payments may arise.
Household income affects family payments such as Child Care Benefit and Family Tax Benefit A & B. Centrelink state – ‘The payments you receive will be checked against your actual income after the end of the financial year.If you have received more than you are entitled to, this amount will need to be repaid.’
On the flip side, if you have received less than you were entitled to, this will be rectified at the end of the year when Centrelink balance payments.
How to stop a discrepancy occurring:
- Log on to your My Gov account and access Centrelink
- Click on the My Profile box and make sure all your information is up to date including relationship status, contact details and that all children are listed correctly
- The Family Assistance and Estimates box shows what income Centrelink are calculating their benefits from.IS THIS CORRECT?
- If not, in the top left hand corner, select the Menu drop down and click on Family Assistance / Update Family Income Estimate
- Click the ‘Update Income’ box and update what you expect your income to be for that financial year
Come July, it will be a good idea to revisit your income estimate for the coming financial year considering any probable salary increases. This is especially important if you have opted to receive your Family Tax Benefit fortnightly to ensure you are not being overpaid.
Lastly, if you are unsure of anything, give your Adviser a call to clarify your situation.
Lee Nickelson, Certified Financial Planner®
Please note: The advice in this article is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information.