While the recent Federal budget did not contain many earth-shattering changes, one very welcome announcement was the alteration of payment frequency for the Childcare Tax Rebate. That, of course, is the one whereby the government rebates to you up to 50% of your out-of-pocket childcare expenses if you meet a work test. You can read more information about the childcare rebate here.
Under the current arrangement, most parents receive their rebate quarterly. Under the new arrangements parents can choose one of four payment options:
- Have the rebate paid directly to the childcare centre on a weekly basis, thereby reducing the upfront fees.
- Have the rebate paid directly into your bank account on a weekly basis.
- Remain on the current quarterly rebate.
- Claim the rebate annually through your tax return.
Having the rebate paid weekly rather than quarterly is potentially a fantastic way to ease the family cashflow. However Centrelink General Manager, Hank Jongen warns that time is fast running out for parents to change their payment frequency. "If parents receive the Child Care Rebate and want to change their payment option from 4 July, they'll need to contact us before 17 June,” he said. “If we don't hear from customers by then, they'll simply keep their current payment option."
And unfortunately payment options cannot be changed throughout the financial year – whichever option you nominate by tomorrow is the option that you will keep until 30th June 2012.
SO: nominate your preferred payment frequency today! If you are already registered with Centrelink's online services you can use your login details to enter your preference. Otherwise there is an easy telephone self-service option on 13 6150. It’s a three-minute phone call that could make meeting your weekly expenses a whole lot easier!