Family Tax Benefits are cash benefits paid by the government to help families with the costs of raising dependent children. Until 2009 the benefits were managed within the income tax system.
From 1 July 2013 individuals have 12 months after the relevant income year to lodge a claim, which replaces the extended lodgement time period of 24 months which previously applied.
All claims, assessments and payments are currently managed by the Family Assistance Office, now part of the Department of Human Services. A claim can be lodged up to 97 days before the expected day of entitlement.
Last year – increases in the Family Tax Benefit which were scheduled for 1 July 2013 did not proceed. The Baby Bonus was removed from 1 March 2014 and replaced with a means-tested increase in Family Tax Benefit Part A payments by $2,000 for first-born, and $1,000 for subsequent children.
Categories of benefit
The Family Tax Benefits are divided into Family Tax Benefits A and B:
- Family Tax Benefit ‘A’ is paid for dependent children under 21 years of age, or dependent full time students aged 21 to 25 years.
- Family Tax Benefit ‘B’ provides additional benefits to families with one main income earner, including sole parent families with at least one child who is under 16, or a full time student under 18.
Benefits are generally paid fortnightly, apart from a supplement which is payable annually on confirmation of income, usually by tax return lodgement.
A Family Tax Benefit Part A Supplement is payable on an annual basis and (since 1 July 2012) is conditional upon:
- children being immunised during the financial years in which they turn one, two and five years of age
- a health check for recipients of certain income support payments which includes the Parenting Payment, Newstart, and payment from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Basic eligibility for Family Tax Benefits depends on age of the student, dependency, Australian residence and visa requirements and is subject to income tests. There is no assets test. The general requirements are:
- You have a dependent child up to the age of 21
- You must have at least 35% of the care of the child in a shared care situation
- You must be living permanently in Australia, although temporary absences of up to 13 weeks generally do not affect payments. Resident New Zealander Special Category Visa holders are included.
- There are income tests on family income, child income of the child and on the receipt of maintenance payments.
Normally only one person in the family can claim the Family Tax Benefit at any time, even if both are eligible. In limited circumstances such as blended families or claims for a past period prior to separation, the benefit may be shared.
For more specific information:
If you are eligible for the Family Tax Benefits, you may also be eligible for:
- large family supplement – an additional amount payable to families for a third and each subsequent child, currently at a rate of $12.04 per fortnight
- multiple birth allowance for three or more children of the same birth
- private rental assistance
Review of departmental decisions
Decisions made about Family Tax Benefit entitlements are reviewable on request. Simple clerical errors may be able to be rectified with a telephone call, but otherwise a written review request should be made using the form provided by the Department (follow the link below). With some exceptions, and in order to preserve your rights and entitlements, a review request should be lodged within 13 weeks of the disputed decision.
A Departmental review is free, and can be made as a request to the original decision maker, or escalated to an Authorised Review Officer. Escalation of a matter beyond the departmental review process to a court or tribunal will involve costs, and may also be subject to shorter time limits.
You have the right to request copies of information held in your Departmental file under Freedom of Information procedures, which would normally be required in any substantial matter of dispute. You can also request assistance from the Commonwealth Ombudsman, although limited in potential outcomes.
If you are dissatisfied with a decision see Reviews and appeals
This is generalised information relating to individuals and not advice. Only the Department of Human Services can assess, approve and pay Family Tax Benefits based on your specific circumstances.
This page was last modified on 15 Dec 2014