Balancing family payments explained

Services Australia is about to start balancing Family Tax Benefit (FTB) and Child Care Subsidy (CCS) for around 2.2 million families.

Many families around Australia have an eye on the calendar knowing that tax time is around the corner.

From 1 July the tax time period starts, meaning we can start the process of balancing family assistance payments. We’ve done this every year since the Family Tax Benefit (FTB) was introduced in 2001.

Before 1 July rolls around, families should find out what they need to do to get their payments balanced.

What is balancing?

At the end of each financial year, we balance FTB and now Child Care Subsidy (CCS) payments to make sure families got paid the right amount during the year.

During 2019-20, the amount of FTB and CCS we paid to families was based on their estimate of their income for the year ahead.

When the financial year ends at 30 June 2020, families can start the process of working out their actual income for that time.

Balancing happens once their actual income is known. We compare it with their estimate to make sure we’ve paid them the right amount.

When will it happen?

We can only start balancing payments when we have all the information we need from families, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and child care services.

The earliest we can balance FTB is from July and the earliest we can balance CCS is from August.

Remember, there’s no rush to get it all done from July. If families can wait to lodge their tax return until August, the myTax pre-filling service will do all the hard work for them.

It’ll pre-fill information from employers, banks and government (including Centrelink) into a person’s tax returns. So all they need to do is review, and update or add info if they need to, before lodging.

What will people need to do?

Every family is different and some families have different steps to get their balancing started. We’ve put together some examples to help families with balancing their family assistance payment.

What outcomes can people expect?

We know 2020 has been a year like no other, so we’ll work hard to get families their balancing outcome as soon as we can.

After we balance payments, we’ll write to families to explain the outcome. There are three possible outcomes:

  1. a top up – you get paid
  2. no change
  3. an overpayment – you’ll need to pay us back.

Most families will get a top up. Usually this happens when people overestimate their income during the financial year.

If we owe them money, we’ll finalise balancing their payments as quickly as we can.

If we think someone has an overpayment – we’ve paid them too much during the year – we won’t finalise balancing their payments straight away.

We’ve paused a range of debt raising and recovery activities due to the coronavirus pandemic. The pause is in place to help people meet their immediate financial needs at this difficult time. Once the pause has ended, we’ll finish balancing payments and write to them with the outcome.

What can families do now to get ready?

  • Get up to speed – Do your research and know what you need to do after the end of the financial year by going to servicesaustralia.gov.au/balancing. We’ll update the information there if things change.
  • Check your family income estimate – Check your family income estimate for the current and upcoming financial year with your online account or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app. Many people have had unexpected changes to their finances in 2020, so make sure it’s up to date. 
  • Get set with your tax – be up-to-date with the ATO. Families can also go to the ATO website ato.gov.au and use a tool called ‘Do I need to lodge a tax return?’