Income compliance refunds

1 July 2020

We will soon start refunding money to people who made repayments to eligible income compliance debts.

You may get a refund on repayments you made to your income compliance debts. This is if your debt was raised using averaging of Australian Taxation Office (ATO) income information.

We’ll write to you if you’re eligible for a refund from mid-July.

In cases where no money has been paid towards an eligible debt, that debt will be reduced to zero.

If you paid an income compliance debt that was raised without using averaged ATO income information, you will not get a refund. Your debt still has to be repaid and won’t be reduced to zero.

When refunds will be paid

In early July, we’ll make a small number of refunds to test our refund system.

Refunds will then be made from late-July, with most expected to be paid by the end of November this year.

Refunds will include repayment of any recovery fees and interest charges that we applied to your eligible debt.

If your refund is a larger amount, it will be paid in instalments.

We won’t use refunds to repay other Centrelink debts you may have. We won’t assess them as income for welfare payments.

There will be 2 separate processes for refunds. This depends on whether you currently either:

  • get a payment from us
  • don’t get a payment from us.

If you get a payment from us

If you’re currently getting a regular payment from us, you don’t need to do anything to get your refund.

Once we process your refund, it will display in your Centrelink online account within 5 business days. We’ll send you a letter confirming the amount of your refund.

Your refund won’t be assessed as income. But if your assets change as a result of your refund, you’ll need to let us know within 14 days. It may affect your current payment rate.

If you don’t get a payment from us

If you’re eligible for a refund and don’t currently get a regular payment from us, you’ll need to update your details with us.

You can do this from late July using your Centrelink online account through myGov. You’ll see a ‘Refund pending’ task asking you to confirm your details. Read more about Centrelink online accounts and myGov.

Once your details are up to date, you’ll get your refund within 5 business days.

We’ll send you a letter confirming how much we refunded you.

What it means if you got a class action letter

We recently sent notices to some people with important legal information about a class action. You need to refer questions you have about the class action to Gordon Legal.

Not everyone who received a notice about the class action will be eligible for a refund. Refunds only apply to repayments to income compliance debts raised using averaging of ATO income information since 1 July 2015.

How your refund affects tax

The refund you receive will not be taxed and you don’t need to do anything further in relation to your tax.

When you have other Centrelink debts

Most Centrelink debts don’t relate to income compliance debts and were not based on income averaging. These debt repayments will not be refunded.

The balancing of family assistance payments is not part of the Income Compliance Program.

Debt pause

You still need to repay Centrelink debts you have that didn’t involve the averaging of ATO income information. However, we currently have a debt pause in place. You don’t need to repay any Centrelink debts right now. Read more about how we’re pausing some debt activity during the coronavirus pandemic.

When you don’t agree with a decision we’ve made

You have the right to ask for a review if you disagree with any decision we’ve made.

Where you can get more information

Read more about our compliance program.

You can call our dedicated compliance refund line on 1800 171 846 if you need further assistance with income compliance.

Page last updated: 2 July 2020