FOUR hundred thousand families must notify Centrelink in the next month if their child is starting primary school or moving to high school next year so they don’t miss out on the school kids bonus worth up to $820 per child.
Under changes that came into effect this year, the bonus is now paid in two instalments in January and July to the parents of 1.3 million school-age children who qualify for Family Tax Benefit A.
The bonus is worth $410 a year for a primary school child and $820 for a high school student.
All families with school-aged children received the first payment in July this year.
But parents who have children starting school for the first time next year and those whose kids are moving on to high school, where the payment is higher, must alert Centrelink.
Problems occurred this year when the money went out on an age-related basis and without checking whether children were at school.
Parents of pre-schoolers who had turned five were paid the bonus even though pre-schoolers are not eligible.
High school students were paid the lower primary school payment of just $410 if they turned 12 after August.
Primary school students, who had turned 12 before August, secured the high school payment of $820.
Centrelink is sending reminder texts, emails and letters to families advising them to register their children so they can receive the money in mid-January in time for the start of the new school year.
The quickest way for parents to notify Centrelink is to register the children online.
However, parents without access to a computer can go in to a Centrelink office or telephone the government agency to register their children.
The school kids bonus replaces the previous Education Tax Refund and families no longer have to keep receipts for school equipment to get the money which is paid automatically into parents’ bank accounts.
Parents do not need to provide proof their child is enrolled at a school to claim the money, however they do have to tick a box to certify their child is attending school.
Cheats run the risk of being caught out by an audit.
Families and Community Services Minister Jenny Macklin said the bonus payment would be in January and “Christmas and January are a busy time for many families, so that’s why we want parents to update their details now before the silly season kicks in”.
Parents who fail to meet the deadline will be able to register their children at a later date and get paid, but the money may not arrive in time to cover the purchase of school uniforms and other supplies before the school year starts.
Families receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A, as well as young people in school receiving Youth Allowance, and others receiving certain income support or veterans payments are eligible for the bonus.
To find out more about the bonus and other government payments you may be eligible for visit http://www.humanservices.gov.au/schoolkidsbonus
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