Centrelink is reminding families to provide an annual income estimate for the new financial year. Centrelink has sent out more than 1.6 million letters asking customers to provide updated family income estimates. The letter asks customers who are currently receiving Family Tax Benefit and Child Care Benefit to estimate their family income for the 2010-2011 financial year.
It’s important that customers update their income estimate when they receive this letter as it ensures that Centrelink pays them their correct entitlement. There are a number of ways that customers can do this, including by telephone or returning the completed form included with their letter.
Families also have the convenience of updating their family income estimate online using Centrelink’s Online Services.
If a family doesn’t provide an income estimate by 1 July, Centrelink will automatically assess them using a default estimate. This simply means we will apply indexation to their most recent family income estimate to increase it in line with the average Australian weekly earnings wage increase.
For more information or to provide an income estimate for 2010-2011, phone 136 150 or visit the Centrelink website at www.centrelink.gov.au.
New eligibility rules for Family Tax Benefit children aged 16 to 20 years
Families who make a new claim for Family Tax Benefit for dependent children aged 16 to 20 are subject to a new rule.
The new rule means that any 16 to 20 year old child must:
Have completed a Year 12 or equivalent qualification, or
Be undertaking full-time education or training leading to a Year 12 or equivalent qualification (a Certificate Level ll under the Australian Qualifications Framework).
Some children might be exempt from this new rule in certain circumstances.
This new rule affects fortnightly instalment claims, lump sum claims at the end of the financial year, or past period claims.
Families who were already receiving fortnightly instalment payments for their 16 to 20 year old children on 31 December 2009 will be subject to this new rule from 1 July 2010.
If you require any further information regarding this eligibility requirement, please contact the Family Assistance Office on 136 150.
Changes to the Parental Income Test
From 1 July 2010 there will be an increase to the Parental Income Test (PIT) threshold for dependent Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY recipients. This will mean an increase in fortnightly payments for many Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY recipients and many families will be able to access these payments for the first time. Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY recipients with parents earning up to $44,165 a year will qualify for the full rate of payment (not taking into account any earnings a student may get from part-time work).
The new Parental Income Test will also take into account the number and circumstances of any other dependent children in the family who receive Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY. If the circumstances of any children in the family change, others may also notice changes in their fortnightly payment rate. For example, if one child’s sibling stops receiving a student payment, becomes independent, or moves away from home, this may affect that child’s rate of payment. Always let Centrelink know about any changes to the family’s circumstances to ensure all dependent children are receiving the highest rate of payment they are eligible for.
The Family Assets Test (which takes into account personal, business and farm assets) will continue to apply to dependent Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY payments. A 75 per cent discount is applied to business and farm assets. No payment can be made if the family's assets exceed $580,000.
The Family Actual Means Test (which may apply if parents or guardians are self-employed, have income or assets outside Australia, have claimed a business loss, have interests in a trust or company, or are business migrants) will also continue to apply.
For more information on Youth Allowance, phone 132 490 or visit the Centrelink website at www.centrelink.gov.au.