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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3566

Mrs Mirabella asked the Minister for Education, in writing, on 3 February 2009:

In respect of allegations that some parents have been claiming thousands of dollars on the child care tax rebate for long day child care services despite not having paid their fees, and when services are withdrawn, continuing this practice at another child care centre:

(1)   Is the Minister aware of such newspaper reports.

(2)   What is the Government doing to ensure parents cannot fraudulently claim the 50 per cent child care tax rebate.

(3)   Is it correct that proof of payment of child care fees is not required by Centrelink in order for the 50 per cent tax rebate to be claimed; if so, why.

(4)   Is it correct that proof of enrolment at a child care centre is all that is required by Centrelink for the 50 per cent rebate to be claimed; if so, why.

(5)   What investigations will the Minister undertake to prevent such fraud; if no investigations will be undertaken, why not.

(6)   What sum of money does she estimate such practices are costing the taxpayer.

Ms Gillard (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   I am aware of a limited number of newspaper reports concerning parents being able to claim the quarterly 50 per cent Child Care Tax Rebate (CCTR) payment without paying their fees.

(2)   Under family assistance legislation, parents cannot fraudulently claim CCTR. A family must incur a liability for the cost of using child care. Payment of CCTR is based on child care attendance information, as reported by the child care service providers. CCTR is not paid where there is no child care usage.

(3)   Under family assistance legislation a family must have incurred a liability for payment of child care fees. These arrangements are in place so that the vast majority of families, who pay their fees on time, are not disadvantaged and receive their correct entitlements in a timely manner. Many families use this assistance to pay any outstanding fees to their child care service provider. Where an issue of non payment arises, the Professional Support Coordinator network can provide help to the management of a child care service provider to address the organisational and financial issues that might be affecting service viability.

(4)   In addition to proof of enrolment and child care usage at a child care centre, families must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • they have a child in their care who meets the immunisation requirements
  • they or their partner (if they have one) meet the residency requirements
  • their child attends approved or registered care and they have the liability to pay for the cost of the child care
  • they must have their income assessed for Child Care Benefit (CCB) purposes (at zero rate CCB or more, as CCTR is not income tested)
  • meet work, study and training requirements.

(5)   and (6) There is no fraud against the Commonwealth - and by extension against the tax-payer. Parents have incurred a liability for which they are legally entitled to receive a tax rebate.