Federal Government issues new advice ahead of “balancing” of Child Care Subsidy
The Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) has issued a notice to providers and services encouraging them to alert parents to the importance of reporting their incomes to Services Australia ahead of the “balancing” of the Child Care Subsidy (CCS).
“Balancing” or “reconciliation” refers to the process that ensures that the correct level of Child Care Subsidy has been paid to a family in a given period by comparing actual incomes received to reported income used in the calculation of the subsidy.
If there is a difference between the two numbers it is possible that the family concerned will receive either a repayment due to underpaid CCS or be asked for a top up if CCS has been overpaid.
Balancing is now underway for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 financial years.
What do families need to do?
Families must confirm the income they received at the end of each financial year by either lodging a tax return or reporting their income to Services Australia.
If a family elects for the second option they can do so by completing an Advise non-lodgement of tax return using their Centrelink online account through myGov or through the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app.
Families will need to follow these steps even if they have already told the Australian Taxation Office they don’t need to lodge.
When is the deadline for updating income details?
The key deadline for updating is 31 March 2021.
This is for both 2018-19 and 2019-20 financial years.
If families don’t confirm their income by 31 March 2021 their CCS will stop. This means they will need to pay full fees when they use child care which will likely have significant consequences on their financial situation and also for the service itself.
It is therefore imperative that providers and services proactively remind and support families to complete these tasks.
If families do complete the task after 31 March 2021 they will have their CCS reinstated BUT will not get a repayment for the period between 31 March 2021 and the payment date.
There is a second deadline on 31 June 2021 for 2018-19 financial year and 31 June 2022 for 2019-20 financial year which if they are also missed will mean the family will be no longer eligible for CCS and will need to make a new claim but importantly they made to pay back all of the CCS received in the respective financial year.
What do providers and services need to do?
The “balancing” process is a matter between families and Services Australia but it has consequences for a provider and service if families do not follow through on their obligations.
This may be reflected in the amount of CCS that is received on behalf of a family after Services Australia balances payments but if a family stops receiving CCS all together the service must revert to a full fee charging situation.
That being said there are multiple resources available for providers and services to support families in completing this essential task.