Commonwealth Consolidated Acts

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SOCIAL SECURITY ACT 1991 - SECT 1236

Secretary may write off debt

             (1)  Subject to subsection (1A), the Secretary may, on behalf of the Commonwealth, decide to write off a debt, for a stated period or otherwise.

          (1A)  The Secretary may decide to write off a debt under subsection (1) if, and only if:

                     (a)  the debt is irrecoverable at law; or

                     (b)  the debtor has no capacity to repay the debt; or

                     (c)  the debtor's whereabouts are unknown after all reasonable efforts have been made to locate the debtor; or

                     (d)  it is not cost effective for the Commonwealth to take action to recover the debt.

          (1B)  For the purposes of paragraph (1A)(a), a debt is taken to be irrecoverable at law if, and only if:

                     (b)  there is no proof of the debt capable of sustaining legal proceedings for its recovery; or

                     (c)  the debtor is discharged from bankruptcy and the debt was incurred before the debtor became bankrupt and was not incurred by fraud; or

                     (d)  the debtor has died leaving no estate or insufficient funds in the debtor's estate to repay the debt.

          (1C)  For the purposes of paragraph (1A)(b), if a debt is recoverable by means of:

                     (a)  deductions from the debtor's social security payment; or

                     (b)  deductions under section 84 of the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999 ; or

                     (c)  setting off under section 84A of that Act;

the debtor is taken to have a capacity to repay the debt unless recovery by those means would result in the debtor being in severe financial hardship.

             (2)  A decision made under subsection (1) takes effect:

                     (a)  if no day is specified in the decision--on the day on which the decision is made; or

                     (b)  if a day is specified in the decision--on the day so specified (whether that day is before, after or on the day on which the decision is made).

             (3)  Nothing in this section prevents anything being done at any time to recover a debt that has been written off under this section.



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