Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Reporting on FTB debts inaccurate

News reports this morning on the number of families with FTB (Family Tax Benefit) debts are not correct. There has notbeen a ‘five-fold increase in family overpayments’.

In fact, the Government’s estimate on the number of families with Family Tax Benefit debts has been accurate.

Late last year, we said there would be around 300,000 families who would get top-up payments for the first time. We also said that around 140,000 families who would have Family Tax Benefit debts after the $1000 waiver.

The figures released last week as part of the Estimates process showed that the actual number of families with debts after the waiver was 145,000. This is a 3.5% increase on the estimate that we were giving out last year.

The reports this morning are making the mistake of confusing the number of families who were over-paid and the number of families who actually had a debt after the $1000 waiver.

The Family Tax Benefit System is a $11 billion program that helps millions of families. Compared to the old system, it has put an additional $2 billion into the pockets of Australian families and pays top-ups to those who over estimate their income.