By Hank Jongen
Department of Human Services
FAMILIES can now have more control over their budget thanks to new Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Advance repayment options.
The expanded repayment options allow people to self-manage their repayments through their Centrelink online services account, the Centrelink Express Plus app or at Australia Post using card, cash, money order or cheque.
This means families can now make additional repayments how, when and where it suits them.
Repayments received online, via the app or at Australia Post are updated in near real-time so families can keep track of their balance.
Advance payments provide families with an upfront portion of the FTB Part A payment to help them meet unexpected expenses.
Families do not have to tell the Department of Human Services how they intend to use the advance, but they must be able to prove they will not suffer financial hardship in order to repay the advance.
There are two types of advance payments people can apply for:
One-off advances – can be requested any time and are limited to 7.5 per cent of the family’s annual rate (not including the FTB Part A supplement), up to a maximum of $1,110.69.
Regular advances – are paid automatically every 26-weeks and are limited to 3.75 per cent of the standard rate for a child under 13-years, currently $178.75.
Families can have more than one one-off advance payment in place at a time, but only one regular advance.
Last financial year, families accessed more than 900,000 advance payments and more than 500,000 of these requests were submitted online or over the phone.
It’s important to note that an advance payment is not an extra payment, but a lump sum that may be paid based on their future entitlement to FTB Part A.
Families can also increase or decrease the amount deducted from their regular fortnightly payments to repay their advance via their Centrelink online account or Express Plus Centrelink app.
However, the rate cannot be reduced below the original repayment amount.
If people choose not to make additional payments, the advance will be automatically repaid from their future FTB payments over 13-fortnights.
Support is available and if people are having difficulties with their repayments, they should contact the department to discuss their circumstances.
For more information on the FTB Advance repayment options, visit humanservices.gov.au and search for “advance payment.”
More information for families is available at humanservices.gov.au/families.