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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Families To Be Tax Agents Under Labor’s Heavy-Handed FTB Plan

The Labor Party wants to make Australian families tax agents under a heavy-handed plan to require people to reconcile their Family Tax Benefit payments every three months, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

She called on Opposition family and community services spokesman, Wayne Swan, to justify his plan tomorrow at the National Press Club.

Mr Swan announced at the weekend that Labor wanted to require Australian families to reconcile their FTB payments every three months.

Mr Swan said on Meet the Press on Sunday that reporting quarterly income was a “lasting solution”.

Senator Patterson said: “That will require Australian families to put in four tax returns a year. This will place an enormous burden on families.

“Mothers and fathers, who stay at home to look after children, will become tax agents for Mr Swan.

“Under the current FTB system, families are given choices as to how they receive their payment. More flexible arrangements have been introduced which allow families to update their estimated income when it suits them – not when it suits Mr Swan.”

A mail-out will remind more than 300,000 families to update their income estimates to ensure they receive their correct entitlement under the Howard Government’s Family Tax Benefit, which delivers assistance averaging $6000 a year to Australian families.

Senator Patterson has instructed the Family Assistance Office to undertake the mail-out this week.

To ensure families receive their correct entitlement it was important income estimates were kept up to date, she said.

Senator Patterson said: “As part of the Government’s program to keep families informed, it’s timely for families to check that their income estimates correctly reflect their earnings and, if there are changes, to advise the Family Assistance Office immediately.”