Income compliance program refunds

You may get a refund if you got an Income Compliance debt that was raised using averaged Australian Taxation Office (ATO) income information.

Refunds relate to debts raised between July 2015 and November 2019. We stopped raising debts using averaged ATO income information as the only evidence from November 2019.

We started processing refunds for eligible customers from 27 July 2020. If you didn’t pay any money towards your eligible debt, we reduced it to zero. This means it no longer exists.

We have already paid most refunds. A small number of former customers need to update their details with us, so we can pay their refund.

If you’re a former customer who made repayments toward an eligible income compliance debt, you may be owed a refund.

Who’s eligible for a refund

You may be eligible for a refund if all of the following apply:

  • you got an Income Compliance debt between 1 July 2015 and 19 November 2019.
  • we raised your debt using averaged ATO income information
  • you repaid some or all of that debt.

You won’t get a refund if your debt used other income evidence.

All debts raised after November 2019 use other evidence such as:

  • payslips
  • information from employers
  • bank statements
  • amended payment summaries from the ATO
  • other third party confirmation.

You also won’t get a refund if your debt is because of the annual balancing of family assistance payments. This is because balancing Family Tax Benefit and Child Care Subsidy is not part of the Income Compliance Program.

What you need to do

The easiest way to check for an outstanding refund is online. To do this:

  • Sign into myGov and go to Centrelink
  • Look for a Refund pending task in your online account.

If you have a Refund pending task:

  • Select the task
  • Follow the prompts to complete and submit your updated details.

If you don’t have a Centrelink online account, register for one through myGov. Read about Centrelink online accounts and how to register.

Once you complete and submit the task, we’ll process your refund. If you don’t update your details through this task, we can’t process your refund.

We’ll confirm your refund amount after we process it. You’ll see it in your Centrelink online account, and you’ll get your refund within 5 business days. We’ll also send you a letter letting you know how much we refunded you.

If you can’t see a Refund pending task, you haven’t been identified as eligible for a refund. If you think you should be eligible, call the Income Compliance line and talk to a staff member.

What you need to know about your refund


The Australian Taxation Office won’t tax your refund. You don’t need to do anything further about your tax. Read more about the tax treatment of refunds on the Australian Taxation Office website.

What to do if you disagree with a decision

You have the right to ask for a review if you disagree with a decision we’ve made about your Income Compliance debt.

If you have other Centrelink debts

We won’t use your refund to repay other Centrelink debts you might have. However, if you don’t have a current payment arrangement on a Child Support debt, contact us to set one up. If you don’t, we may garnishee your bank account or tax return.

Refunds that we pay in instalments

A small number of refunds will be paid in instalments over consecutive business days.

What debts you need to repay

Most Centrelink debts weren’t raised using averaged ATO income information and don’t relate to the Income Compliance Program.

You still need to repay Centrelink debts you have that didn’t use averaged ATO income information.

If you have a debt, we’ll let you know when you need to make a repayment. We’ll also let you know how to set up a payment arrangement if you can’t pay by the due date. Most people choose to pay the money back over time.

What the Income Compliance class action settlement is

The Federal Court of Australia approved the Income Compliance class action settlement. You may know this as the Robodebt class action.

Not everyone who is part of the class action is eligible for a settlement payment. We sent a letter to all group members in November 2021 to let them know if they’re eligible for a settlement payment.

We need to work through a number of steps in the settlement process before we can start making payments. The Implementation Plan for Settlement Distribution Scheme gives a time frame for each step.

Page last updated: 22 August 2022.
QC 60301

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