Changes to deeming rates and identifying scams

Money and Life
(Financial Planning Association of Australia)

Beware of scammers at this time of year, who often contact people to say they’re entitled to a tax refund or they need to pay a debt.

Tax time is a timely reminder to be vigilant of scams. Scammers are very opportunistic, particularly around tax time when people are expecting a tax refund. They may pretend to be from myGov or other Government organisations, like the Australian Taxation Office.

At this time of year, they often contact people to say they’re entitled to a tax refund or they need to pay a debt. Obviously, what they are trying to do is trick people into giving them money or personal details.

If your client receives a call from the Department of Human Services, and suspects it might be a scam, the safest option is to hang up and phone back the Department to check if the call was genuine. Your client can call the Department of Human Services on their regular payment line or one of the numbers listed on the website.

While the Department of Human Services do call people, it will never threaten them with arrest or tell them to buy gift cards or iTunes cards. If your client gets a phone call like this, it’s a scam and they should disconnect the call.

The Department of Human Services also sends emails and texts from time to time, but it will never include any links to websites in them. Scammers often include links that direct people to fake websites and if your client receives one of these messages, it’s important they don’t open it or click on any of the links, or respond to the sender. Delete the message and let the Department know about it.

If your client has accidentally provided their personal information to a scammer, they should contact the Scams and Identity Theft Helpdesk (Monday to Friday) on 1800 941 126. You can stay up-to-date on how to identify, report and protect you and your client against scams by clicking here.

Deeming rates

There have also been recent changes to deeming rates. Deeming assumes that your client’s financial investments earn a set rate of income, no matter what they really earn. The Department of Human Services uses an income and assets test to work out how much it can pay your client, and any deemed income is included in their income test.

The new deeming rates were recently set by the Minister for Social Services and your client’s deemed income will depend on whether they are single or a member of a couple. The Department applies a lower deemed rate to a certain, initial amount of your client’s total financial investments, which is now 1 per cent (down from 1.75 per cent). The higher deemed rate is 3 per cent (down from 3.25 per cent).

The Department of Human Services will backdate the deeming rates to 1 July 2019 and apply the new rates from this date. If your client has deemed income, the new deeming rates will automatically apply and they may see a change in their regular payment rate once this has been done. In the meantime, there’s nothing they need to do.


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