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.
Individuals have 12 months after the relevant income year to lodge a claim.
All claims, assessments and payments are currently managed by the Department of Human Services. A claim can generally be lodged up to 97 days before the expected day of entitlement.
Changes to family assistance payments from 1 July 2018: see more here.
Changes include a toughening of the ‘No jab, No pay’ policy which will see Family Tax Benefit Part A fortnightly payments reduced for each child who does not meet immunisation requirements
Extension of waiting period for new migrants: From 1 July 2018 a 3-year waiting period (previously 2 years) for benefits including Family Tax Benefit, Paid Parental Leave and Carers Allowance will apply to migrants. (Those eligible to receive PPL between 1 July 2018 and 31 December 2018 will be exempt).
- See further: New waiting periods for migrants to access social security and family assistance payments
Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2017
(April 12, 2017) The government has passed legislation which contains the following measures:
- annual (1 July) indexation of certain social security benefits and allowances (other than student payments) and the income test free area for parenting payment single paused for three years
- the usual 1 January indexation of the income free areas and other means test thresholds for student payments will be paused for three years
- enablement of automation of the regular income stream review process (for income support recipients with an income stream) by requiring income stream providers to transfer a dataset to the Department of Human Services on a regular basis.
- waiting periods – extend and simplify the waiting period for certain working age payments
- family tax benefit CPI indexation paused for 2 years – indexation of the FTB child rates for family tax benefit Part A, Part B, and an approved care organisation’s standard rate are to be paused from 1 July 2017, and resumed on 1 July 2019
For further detailed information see Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill
FTB Changes taking effect 1 July 2016
- For FTB – part B couples – eligibility is limited to youngest child aged 12 and under
- Cessation of large family supplement
- Temporary travel overseas commenced after 30 June 2016 – payments limited to 6 weeks
See further information about these changes here.Change to Adjusted Taxable Income Formula
The government has adjusted the formula for the inclusion of the value of fringe benefits in Adjusted Taxable Income.
The meaning of ‘adjusted fringe benefits total’ is modified so that the gross value rather than adjusted net value (previously 51%) of reportable fringe benefits is used, except for PBIs, hospitals and charities.
‘adjusted fringe benefits total’ is a component of Adjusted Taxable Income
This affects eligibility for:
family tax benefits, stillborn baby payment,child care benefit, Youth Allowance, Abstudy and Isolated Children’s Allowance
parental leave pay and dad and partner pay
low income superannuation contribution payment
net medical expenses offset
dependant (invalid and carer) (DICTO) tax offset
Notional dependent’s offset for the Zone & overseas personnel tax offsets
For details of the amending legislation see Budget Savings (Omnibus) Act 2016 (Schedule 15). The measures received royal assent on 16 September 2016 and according to its terms therefore take effect from 1 January 2017 for family assistance payments and for income tax tests from 1 July 2017.
Categories of FTB benefit
The Family Tax Benefits are divided into Family Tax Benefits A and B:
- Family Tax Benefit ‘A’ is paid for dependent children to the age of 19 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
Following an amendment to the rules, the supplement will no longer be payable to families with income over $80,000. If an individual and partners’ adjusted taxable income is more than
$80,000 for the year (starting from 1 July 2016), then the Part A supplement is reduced to nil.
Basic Eligibility for FTB
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/student up to the age of 19. Basic coverage is for students up to secondary school level, and ceases after completion or cessation of year 12 or equivalent or if still studying, on reaching age 19 – up to 31 December. See in detail here.
- The child cannot be receiving another pension or benefit (such as youth allowance)
- You must have at least 35% of the care of the child in a shared care situation
- You must be living permanently in Australia. 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 information and how to claim:
- Department of Human Services – Family Tax Benefits
- Detailed eligibility and rates information – see the DSS Guide
- Note: The Baby Bonus has ceased to be available. See further here
Review of FTB 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 2018-07-11