2.6.18 Would a change be otherwise proper?
A decision to change an assessment must be 'otherwise proper'.
Matters to consider
The Registrar must consider whether it is 'otherwise proper' to make a particular decision when considering an application for a change of assessment (section 117(5)). The impact of the decision on government expenditure (for pensions and benefits) has to be considered.
The Registrar must consider:
- the nature of the duty of a parent to maintain a child and, in particular, the fact that it is the parents of a child who have the primary duty to maintain the child; and
- the effect that any proposed change would have on the child or payee's entitlement to an income-tested pension, allowance or benefit (2.6.17).
A payee who receives more than the base rate of FTB Part A can receive a certain amount (a threshold amount) of child support from the payer before this affects their rate of payment. Increasing the annual rate of child support will usually reduce government payment of FTB. Reducing the assessment will usually increase government payment of FTB, and the Registrar must consider whether this would be appropriate (or 'otherwise proper') in the particular case.
Even if parents agree about the rate of child support that should be paid, a change to an assessment may not be 'otherwise proper'.
If there are administrative remedies (e.g. estimates of income, non-agency payments) available to the parents it may not be 'otherwise proper' to change an assessment.
Example: Rajesh has made payments to Elvina. Rajesh later applies for a change to the assessment based on those payments. Rajesh has not applied to have those amounts credited as non-agency payments.
If the amounts were credited as non-agency payments, Elvina is shown as having received those amounts and any amount of FTB Part A at more than base rate would be reduced accordingly. However, if the Registrar reduces the assessment by the amount of the payments, Elvina is not shown as having received the amounts and may receive a higher payment of FTB. The overall contribution that Elvina makes to the support of the children would be the same, but in the latter case, Elvina would receive more FTB. The decision to change the assessment is not 'otherwise proper'.
The Registrar must not only consider the amount of the change to the assessment but also the duration of any decision in working out if it is 'otherwise proper'. It may be appropriate to make a short-term decision so the parents can consider a child support agreement or make other arrangements to re-organise their financial circumstances. It may not be 'otherwise proper' to maintain a change to an assessment for an extended period.