2.6.3 A Decision to Refuse to Change an Assessment

Context

The Registrar can decide that an assessment should not be changed even though a change of assessment has been initiated. In some circumstances, the Registrar has no power to make a change of assessment decision. Further, in some circumstances the Registrar has discretion to refuse to change an assessment.

Act references

CSA Act section 98A, section 98E, section 98F, section 98J, section 98JA, section 98L, section 98R, section 98RA, section 98S, section 98SA, section 112

On this page

No power to make a change of assessment decision

The Registrar cannot make a change of assessment decision varying an assessment:

  • for any day that is more than 18 months before the day upon which a person lodged his or her application for a change of assessment (CSA Act section 98S(3B)(a)) unless a court has granted leave to make a change for an earlier period under section 112 (4.3.2) (a court may not grant leave to depart from the assessment for any day that is more than 7 years before the lodgement date of the departure application), or
  • for any day that is more than 18 months before the day upon which the Registrar notified the payer and payee of its proposal to change the assessment in a Registrar-initiated change of assessment (CSA Act section 98S(3B)(b)) unless a court has granted leave to make a change for an earlier period under section 112 (4.3.2) (a court may not grant leave to depart from the assessment for any day that is more than 7 years before the lodgement date of the departure application), or
  • for any day outside the period for which a court has granted leave for the Registrar to make a determination (and which is more than 18 months before the date upon which the application for change of assessment was lodged, or the Registrar notified the payer and payee of its proposal to change the assessment in a Registrar-initiated change of assessment) (CSA Act section 98S(3C)), or
  • to an amount lower than the minimum annual rate of child support (2.5.4) for a particular child support period unless the payer has at least regular care of at least one of the children in that child support case (2.2.1) (CSA Act section 98SA), or
  • if there is no child support assessment in force in relation to a child on the day the application for a change of assessment is made to the Registrar (CSA Act section 98B). However, in certain circumstances, a court can make an order under CSA Act section 118 to vary a child support assessment, despite the assessment having ended (see 2.6.1).

If a person seeks a change to the assessment for a period that is wholly more than 18 months (or such time as granted by a court) before the lodgement date of the application, the Registrar must not make a decision to depart from the assessment (section 98S). As the application cannot result in a change to the assessment, the Registrar will not exchange the application or other accompanying documents with the other party or otherwise involve the other party prior to the decision.

If the application seeks to depart from the assessment for a period that is only partially more than 18 months (or such time as granted by a court) before the lodgement date of the application, the Registrar will consider the application for as much of the period as is less than 18 months before the lodgement date. As above, the Registrar will not make a decision that affects the assessment for any of the days more than 18 months before the lodgement date unless leave is granted by a court to do so.

Example: M and F have one child, A. M seeks a change to the assessment on the basis that F has a greater capacity to pay child support for A than that indicated by their adjusted taxable income. M asks that the assessment be changed for the last 2 years. M has not sought leave of the court to allow the Registrar to make a decision for any day more than 18 months prior to the lodgement date of the application. The Registrar considers the application and agrees that F has a greater capacity to pay and makes a decision to vary the assessment by setting F's adjusted taxable income for the last 18 months; the 6 months prior to that period remain unchanged.

Power to refuse to change an assessment

The Registrar can refuse to change an assessment in the following situations.

  • A parent's financial circumstances, or the issues associated with the case, are too complex to be decided by the Registrar (section 98E). Note that if the Registrar determines that issues relating to any of the 10 change of assessment grounds are too complex to be decided, the Registrar must determine that the whole change of assessment application is too complex.
  • There are no grounds for departing from the assessment under any of the 10 change of assessment reasons (CSA Act section 98F(a)).
  • A change of assessment reason exists, but it would not be just and equitable (2.6.17) or otherwise proper (2.6.18) to make a decision to change the assessment (CSA Act section 98F(b)).
  • A person makes a new change of assessment application after the Registrar has refused a prior change of assessment application lodged by that person and the Registrar is satisfied that the later application does not include any new issues (CSA Act section 98J(2)).
  • The issues involved in a Registrar-initiated change of assessment (2.6.6) are too complex to be decided by the Registrar (CSA Act section 98R).
  • The requirements to change an assessment in a Registrar-initiated change of assessment (2.6.6) are not satisfied (CSA Act section 98L(1)).

The Registrar must give written notice of the decision

The Registrar must notify both the payer and payee when an application to change the assessment is refused (CSA Act section 98JA(1)), or the Registrar decides not to proceed to make a change in a Registrar-initiated change of assessment (2.6.6) (CSA Act section 98RA(1)).

The Registrar's notice must include information about the parent's right to object to the Registrar's decision (4.1).The notice must also advise that if a party is aggrieved by the objection decision (no matter who lodged the objection), the party may apply for an AAT first review of the objection decision (CSA Act section 98JA(2)(b) and section 98RA(2)(b) (see 4.2) for information about applications to the AAT).

Last reviewed: 17 August 2015