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Why does Centrelink do this?


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#1 Ozquoll

Posted 15 August 2019 - 01:11 PM

After I do my tax each year, Centrelink sends me a letter about Family Tax Benefits. It always has the same, vaguely threatening tone, and it accuses me of underestimating our income for the coming tax year. The letter tells me their estimate of our income for the forthcoming year, apparently based on our income for last tax year plus expected changes in AWOTE. The figure is nearly 10% higher than our income for last year, and AWOTE only went up about 2%, so where do they pull these figures from? I sure WISH we were going to have 10% more income next year, but it ain’t gunna happen!

I find these letters puzzling as I have always overestimated our income (by a few percent, not ten percent!) so that I know I will never have to pay any FTB back.

#2 Cheesy Sanga

Posted 15 August 2019 - 01:15 PM

I think it must be a generic letter sent to everyone as we get the same letter as well.

#3 kimasa

Posted 15 August 2019 - 01:18 PM

I get that too.

#4 Ozquoll

Posted 15 August 2019 - 01:20 PM

^^^
Do they over-estimate your income by such a lot too?

#5 Prancer is coming

Posted 15 August 2019 - 01:30 PM

Why?  I would say they raise thousands of debts a year from people who under declare their income.  They have probably heard a million times people saying that they did not have a pay rise, but they were not aware of inflation or got a bit of over time.  

It can be hard for many people to estimate income, so they probably figure an extra 10% of last year’s income would be a good estimate.  Not everyone over estimates.  Many people live from week to week and need all the funds they can get in order to get through the week.

I would say it is a million times easier at tax time for Centrelink to giveback money to anyone that over estimated their income.  Much easier than getting aggro from people over having a debt, having to try and get the debt back and dealing with appeals.

#6 BornToLove

Posted 15 August 2019 - 01:39 PM

I get them with regards to income estimates for the child care subsidy. It’s really frustrating as I do give us a buffer of 10% and yet still get threatening notices (via my gov) if our income goes up in the slightest (ie one time bonus, modest pay raise of under 2%).

It’s annoying to have them suggest we’re cheating the system when we work hard and have provided such a substantial over estimate of income anyways.

Edited by BornToLove, 15 August 2019 - 01:41 PM.


#7 Ozquoll

Posted 15 August 2019 - 01:53 PM

View PostPrancer is coming, on 15 August 2019 - 01:30 PM, said:

Why?  I would say they raise thousands of debts a year from people who under declare their income.  They have probably heard a million times people saying that they did not have a pay rise, but they were not aware of inflation or got a bit of over time.  

It can be hard for many people to estimate income, so they probably figure an extra 10% of last year’s income would be a good estimate.  Not everyone over estimates.  Many people live from week to week and need all the funds they can get in order to get through the week.

I would say it is a million times easier at tax time for Centrelink to giveback money to anyone that over estimated their income.  Much easier than getting aggro from people over having a debt, having to try and get the debt back and dealing with appeals.
Yeah, I agree with all that, but I don’t understand why CL is telling me the figure is based on 2018/19 tax year plus expected changes in AWOTE for the forthcoming year. No-one (except maybe CEOs) is getting a 10% pay raise, so clearly their figures are based on something other than just last year’s income plus a projected AWOTE uplift. If they had said it was last years income plus 10%, that would have been fine, but that’s not what the letter says.

#8 chicken_bits

Posted 15 August 2019 - 01:55 PM

I stopped trying to understand why Centrelink does anything years ago. Pretty much whatever you think is reasonable... expect the opposite from Centrelink!

#9 Murderino

Posted 15 August 2019 - 02:01 PM

They administer legislation. If you don’t like what the legislation requires them to do then you need to lobby the government of the day.

#10 Caitlin Happymeal

Posted 15 August 2019 - 02:03 PM

I hate the wording of most of the communication I get from human services. Oh and the NDIS.

I've given up trying to make sense of it. I'm always seeing "you were overpaid in a previous year blah blah blah" on my estimates for CCS... wellllll.... I've always estimated accurately so it's never been my error... I just ignore the words and look at the figures. If there's a debt I sort it out, if there's a top up, woo hoo.

I'm still miffed that I can't see our combined income yet anywhere. Would love to be organised and know if I'm getting a top up or have a debt, because it doesn't seem to matter how accurately I estimate. Ah well. I guess it's better that they get it right on this first year of CCS than muff it up because they were rushing.

#11 Ozquoll

Posted 15 August 2019 - 02:15 PM

View PostMurderino, on 15 August 2019 - 02:01 PM, said:

They administer legislation. If you don’t like what the legislation requires them to do then you need to lobby the government of the day.
I didn’t say anything about legislation, I said that the figure on the letter cannot be calculated the way they said it was, and I wondered why.
EDIT - whoops, B.A.G. Has just pointed out you were responding to another post 🤭

Edited by Ozquoll, 15 August 2019 - 02:41 PM.


#12 Caitlin Happymeal

Posted 15 August 2019 - 02:17 PM

Yeah I don't think it's the legislation that's the problem here...

#13 born.a.girl

Posted 15 August 2019 - 02:19 PM

View PostCaitlin Happymeal, on 15 August 2019 - 02:17 PM, said:

Yeah I don't think it's the legislation that's the problem here...


Yeah, imagine having to be the one carrying it out.

#14 born.a.girl

Posted 15 August 2019 - 02:20 PM

View PostOzquoll, on 15 August 2019 - 02:15 PM, said:

I didn’t say anything about legislation, I said that the figure on the letter cannot be calculated the way they said it was, and I wondered why.

I don't think it's in response to you.

My daughter now has three separate problems with Centrelink, to the extent that I'm going with her next time. She had communication issues that mean she finds it really hard in that face to face situation.

The last time I did this with her the woman was absolutely wonderful.

#15 Mollyksy

Posted 15 August 2019 - 02:52 PM

To be fair, having worked in the public sector, the original draft of a letter may be perfectly clear. Then through the approval process someone higher up had a bright idea or 4 of how to 'improve' the letter but not the technical understanding and after 5 levels of chinese whispers letter writing you get a final version that probably makes little sense and is not at all what the initial author had intended.

#16 kimasa

Posted 15 August 2019 - 04:02 PM

View PostOzquoll, on 15 August 2019 - 01:20 PM, said:

^^^
Do they over-estimate your income by such a lot too?

Yeah. I just ignore it though.

#17 lozoodle

Posted 16 August 2019 - 09:18 AM

Yeah I think so, I just throw them out. I assume its a generic letter just making sure people remember to update their details probably because there's heaps that don't.

#18 SeaPrincess

Posted 16 August 2019 - 09:32 AM

I regularly get letters from them about updating our income estimate and we get nothing from them and haven’t used approved childcare for the past 2 years.

#19 KTB73

Posted 16 August 2019 - 12:14 PM

Think of it as forced savings as if they over estimate your earnings, when they balance it at the end of the financial year you will be owed a refund.

#20 IamzFeralz

Posted 16 August 2019 - 02:38 PM

I think they cancelled my health care card on the basis of this 10% increased estimate because the pharmacy told me a few days ago something had changed and I had to pay full price for my medication even though I am under the threshold.  It saves the government money.   I had to log into My Gov to change it to a more realistic estimate for this year.

Edited by IamzFeralz, 16 August 2019 - 02:38 PM.


#21 born.a.girl

Posted 16 August 2019 - 02:43 PM

 IamzFeralz, on 16 August 2019 - 02:38 PM, said:

I think they cancelled my health care card on the basis of this 10% increased estimate because the pharmacy told me a few days ago something had changed and I had to pay full price for my medication even though I am under the threshold.  It saves the government money.   I had to log into My Gov to change it to a more realistic estimate for this year.


I didn't think of that happening to people.

Anyone who gets pushed over any thresh-hold you'd think would have flags to have another step in the system.

#22 ipsee

Posted 16 August 2019 - 03:58 PM

Centrelink once sent me a letter saying it appeared I may have been overpaid in the region of $00.22 and that debt collection action may ensue!

I just ignored it, but these days with robo debt who knows what would happen.

#23 Holidayromp

Posted 16 August 2019 - 03:58 PM

 born.a.girl, on 16 August 2019 - 02:43 PM, said:




I didn't think of that happening to people.

Anyone who gets pushed over any thresh-hold you'd think would have flags to have another step in the system.

A system that forces its most vulnerable citizens to jump through hoops to get what they are entitled to whilst the fatted politicians get to ride the generous gravy train well after retirement, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is yet another strategy to keep the spending down in the welfare sector.

#24 Caitlin Happymeal

Posted 16 August 2019 - 06:45 PM

Oh yeah we are one of the families who fluctuate between being eligible for health care cards for our children with disabilities, (even though I thought it wasn't means tested if for a child receiving carers allowance, but what do I know - I can't keep up with the legislation...) and not... I've had a period of 6 months where they just didn't communicate with us and we didn't get  renewed cards, then magically, a few months ago, we got them again. Then they've re sent yet another one for one of my daughter's randomly this week. I can't make sense of it. My income updates are only ever done yearly...

#25 Murderino

Posted 16 August 2019 - 06:56 PM

 born.a.girl, on 16 August 2019 - 02:43 PM, said:

I didn't think of that happening to people.

Anyone who gets pushed over any thresh-hold you'd think would have flags to have another step in the system.

The letter I get just before the start of a new financial year says I have two options
1. Let them apply their estimate; or
2. Provide my own estimate before X date.

The ones I’ve had once they get my taxable income for the last financial year and it’s higher than my estimate for the current one have the same two options.




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