Addressing income apportionment

We’ve started work on matters we paused because of income apportionment. This work will take time and happen in stages.

We now have a methodology for calculating employment income related debts prior to 7 December 2020.

This means we can gradually restart work on matters affected by income apportionment.

We’re starting with debt reviews and explanations we paused in mid-2021.

What the stages are

Restarting work on reviews and explanations will happen in stages.

Stage 1

From late April 2024, we’ll start contacting a small sample of people who had requested a review or explanation of their debts.

We’ll work through this small group over the next 3 months to ensure the new process is working smoothly and apply feedback from customers and staff.

Stage 2

Once we are confident in the new process, we’ll gradually start contacting the full group of customers who requested a review or explanation of their debts.

This work will begin in the second half of 2024 and it’ll take some time to contact every customer in this larger group.

If you are waiting for a review outcome or an explanation, there’s nothing you need to do.

Your review and debt will remain paused until we contact you to explain the next steps.

Stage 3

We are still working with the Department of Social Services to get a clear position to address other matters. This includes other paused debts and historical debts that may be affected by income apportionment.

This is likely to take longer and may require decisions from Government.

The pause on these debts will remain in place until we have a way forward.

We’re keeping the Commonwealth Ombudsman updated on our actions.

We’ll provide an update to affected customers when we know more.

How we’re handling reviews and explanations

We’re restarting work on debt reviews and explanations we paused in mid-2021.

We’ll start by checking if the debt actually involved income apportionment.

If it did, we’ll need to recalculate the debt.

We’ll then talk with you to find out what income information may be available.

We may also contact employers or financial institutions to request information we need.

We won’t ask you to do this.

We understand you or your employer may not have old pay information available.

There are several options we can use to recalculate your debt. We’ll use the best option that is available, in this order:

  1. Payslips with daily income information.
  2. Payslips that show when you got paid.
  3. Bank statements along with other evidence that shows when you got paid.
  4. Information we have on record that you’ve reported to us.

Options 2 and 3 allow us to assess your income based on when you received it. This is in line with how we assess income under the current rules that came in to affect in December 2020.

Using any of these methods will ensure your debt is recalculated lawfully.

Most debts won’t go away. They’ll either get smaller or bigger.

There will be cases where a debt may be reduced to zero, or we need to refund people who paid too much debt.

Once we’ve reviewed your debt, we’ll write to you to let you know the outcome.

Read more about explanations and formal reviews of a Centrelink decision.

How we’re handling paused debts

We’re pausing repayments on some debts that occurred before 7 December 2020.

In November last year, we paused any debts that involved fortnightly income reporting and may have been directly affected by income apportionment.

In early April 2024, we paused more debts we’ve found that may have been indirectly impacted by income apportionment.

These other debts may relate to payments that don’t need fortnightly income reporting, such as Family Tax Benefit.

This is a complex issue and we’re working to ensure we identify all affected debts. We’ll continue to pause other debts if we find they could be affected by income apportionment.

This means some people may get more than one notification about a debt pause.

If we need to pause your debt, we’ll send you a text message to let you know. We’ll then send you a letter with more detail on the specific debts that we’ve paused.

This doesn’t mean we’ve waived your debt.

If you get a text message or a letter saying we’ve paused recovery of your debt, please don’t make any repayments on the debt.

If you get a payment from us, we’ll stop deducting repayments for the debt that has been paused.

If you have a direct debit arrangement set up with us, we’ll stop the arrangement while your debt is paused.

If you have regular BPAY payments or electronic transfers from your bank account, you’ll need to stop those yourself. If you have more than one debt, you can call our Income apportionment line to confirm which debt you should stop payments for.

While these debts are paused, they might not appear in the Money you owe service in your Centrelink online account. However, they will appear in your debt statement. We have information to help you get a statement of debt.

If you have other debts that aren’t affected by the pause, recovery action will continue for those debts.

The pause will stay in place until we work out the right next steps. We don’t expect to have an update on this until late 2024.

We’ll contact you again about those steps in the future.

What to do if you’re concerned about a debt you have

Some debts and reviews that we’ve paused may not be affected by income apportionment.

If we’re able to confirm that a debt is not affected by income apportionment, we may restart recovery of that debt.

We’ll notify you before we restart recovering any debts that have been paused.

If you’re concerned about a debt you have, or you want to request a review, call us on our Income apportionment line.

Contact numbers available on this page.

Income apportionment line

Use this line if we’ve written to you about a debt or review related to income apportionment.

Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm

There are other ways you may want to contact us.

Page last updated: 17 May 2024.
QC 65909