Tax time tips for families

IF you received a Family Tax Benefit or Child Care Benefit during 2015–16 from the Department of Human Services you may soon need to lodge a tax return to trigger your annual payment reconciliation.

This is an automated process (also known as “balancing”), that sees the department compare the amount of Family Tax Benefit and/or Child Care Benefit paid to you based on your estimated income, against what you are actually entitled to based on your income assessment provided by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

This process determines what top-ups or supplements you may be eligible for, or whether you need to repay any debts. Child Care Rebate payments will be balanced at the same time as your Child Care Benefit.

You do not need to contact the department to check the progress of your balancing.

The department receives adjusted taxable income assessments directly from the ATO and this automatically triggers the balancing process, so there is no need to call or contact the department in any other way.

It generally takes up to 28 days from the time you receive your Notice of Assessment from the ATO for the department to receive your income information and balance your payments.

Once your payments have been balanced, the department will let you know the outcome by sending a letter or uploading this information to your Centrelink online account.

If you are part of a couple, you should also remember your partner may also need to lodge their tax return, or advise the Department of Human Services that they are not required to lodge one, before the balancing process can begin. This is easily done through either their Centrelink online account via myGov or through the Express Plus mobile app.

In this case, it can take up to 28 days from when your partner receives their Notice of Assessment from the ATO for the department to balance your payments.

Once your payments have been balanced the details will show in your Centrelink online account, including any top-up amounts and supplements or debts you have.

The Department of Human Services will also write to you letting you know the outcome.

If you receive your letters online, keep an eye out there.

Anyone unsure about their tax time requirements for Family Tax Benefit or Child Care Benefit purposes can visit www.humanservices.gov.au/taxtime for more information.