Taxman’s rules: Father until proven innocent
Ross Hill opens bills with what has become a familiar dread.
There are the standard accounts – power, phone, credit card. And then, inevitably, the letter from the IRD, demanding $220 a month in child support for an 11-year-old Australian girl he has never met.
The letters started coming 15 months ago, but since then Hill has come no closer to verifying whether he is the girl’s father, or even establishing contact with the girl and her mother.
Hill never knew of the girl until the first letter arrived in February last year, saying the IRD would collect his payments on behalf of Australia’s Child Support Agency (CSA).
While he admits having a relationship with the girl’s mother years ago, Hill says he was in a residential rehabilitation centre at the time of conception. He has been trying for more than a year to resolve the paternity issue through a DNA test, saying he would happily pay for child support if it showed he was the father.
But the CSA is refusing to review its position and consider a DNA test unless Hill can produce records showing he was in the centre at the time – records he says appear to have been lost.
Hill says the CSA is now asking for more than $7000 – and any possibility of arranging a DNA test of his own accord is hampered by the CSA’s refusal to give him the woman’s contact details.
Hill’s lawyer, Gary Clarke, said the situation was frustrating and unfair.
“It seems to me (the system) is considerably weighted in favour of a woman,” he said. “They can assess a man for child support on the say-so of a woman, yet he can’t get it reviewed unless he can provide records showing otherwise.”