Waiver of debt

The Commonwealth has a range of options available to assist you to manage a debt owed to the Commonwealth. These include reconsideration of whether the debt should have been raised, deferral of a requirement to repay a debt until a later date and the establishment of a repayment arrangement that has regard to your personal circumstances and capacity to pay. For some debts specific legislation may enable your debt to be remitted or waived by the debt holding agency.

You should contact the agency that holds your debt to discuss options that may be available to you.

Waiver of your debt by Finance is a ‘last resort’ option, which will generally only be considered after all available options have been tested with the debt holding agency.

Waivers of debt are discretionary. There is no situation which creates an automatic entitlement to a waiver of debt.

When is it appropriate to consider requesting consideration of waiver of a debt owed to the Commonwealth

Finance cannot waive debts that are held by a State or Territory Government Departments, Private Organisations, or some Corporate Commonwealth entities or Commonwealth Companies.

The waiver of debt mechanism is generally an avenue of last resort. If you have other options available to address your situation, a waiver of debt may not be appropriate.

Other options that may be available to you include:

  • Internal review through the Non-Corporate Commonwealth entity,
  • External review through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Commonwealth Ombudsman or the Inspector-General of Taxation, or;
  • Legal action through the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court

In your application you will need to explain the reasons why you consider a waiver of debt would be appropriate in your situation.

The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the RMG-401 – Applications for discretionary financial assistance under the PGPA Act provides more information on when waiver of debt may be appropriate.  

Who can request consideration of for waiver of debt?

An individual, partnership or organisation can apply for a waiver of a debt owed to a Non-Corporate Commonwealth entity.

You can request consideration of waiver of debt on behalf of any individual, partnership or organisation, provided they have authorised you to do so. Please submit an instrument of authorisation with your application.

Will my financial circumstances be taken into account?

The waiver of debt provision is not used to address financial hardship. If you are facing financial hardship, you should contact Centrelink to discuss what Commonwealth support may be available to you.

Your personal circumstances, particularly the impact of the decision or action of the Commonwealth on you may be relevant to your request for consideration, you should outline how the action or the decision of the Commonwealth which gave rise to your debt, has affected your personal circumstances. The Statement of Financial Details form may assist you to outline your personal circumstances and may be submitted with your request for consideration.

Debts are rarely waived solely on the basis of financial hardship.

Who decides whether to approve a waiver of debt?

The Finance Minister holds the power to approve a waiver of debt, under section 63(1) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. This power has been delegated to officials within Finance.


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