The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Waiver of a debt relating to an offence


SSAct section 1237AA permits the waiver of a debt arising from an offence where the debtor has received an extended custodial sentence because the debtor is either unwilling or unable to repay the debt.

SSAct section 1237AA requires that the whole of the proportion of the debt that arose in connection with the offence must be waived. It does not make provision for waiver of a part of that proportion of the debt.

The meaning of 'indicated'

SSAct section 1237AA requires that the court must have indicated that the custodial sentence is a longer sentence AND that it was imposed because the debtor was unwilling or unable to repay the debt.

In Sidney Charles Frank Sears v Secretary, Department of Social Security (1996) AATA 119 the AAT held that, for the purposes of SSAct section 1237AA, indicated has its everyday meaning of 'showed' or 'made known'. It is not necessary to use a broader construction of 'implied' or 'suggested' to enable the operation of the section.

Proof of sentencing

It must be demonstrated that the sentence imposed was a longer than normal sentence AND that it was imposed because of the debtor's inability or unwillingness to repay the debt.

Proof of this should be obtained from the sentencing judge's remarks upon sentencing, or from the sentence itself.

It is important that the length of the sentence is not compared with other sentences for similar offences when making such a decision. This approach will not be sufficient to show the reasons the sentence was imposed.

Act reference: SSAct section 1237AA Waiver of debt relating to an offence

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