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  • Debts on hold

    Debts on hold are not visible on your account balance but remain payable. New credits and refunds are offset against it.

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    About debts on hold

    When a debt is placed on hold, we do not try to collect the debt. Usually this is because it is not an economical option for us.

    A debt deemed uneconomical for collection will be re-raised later if you become entitled to credits. These credits will be applied to reduce the balance, or if your circumstances change.

    When we make the decision to place debts on hold:

    • we notify you by letter that we have paused debt collection, any credits you become entitled to will be offset against the debt, and it may be re-raised in future depending on your circumstances
    • in Online Services you will see a transaction with the description ‘non-pursuit’ on your Statement of Account, for the relevant account
    • your debt on hold amount will not show as an outstanding balance on your account, as we have made it ‘inactive’, but the debt is still on your record
    • although we may have decided to place your debt on hold at a point in time, the debt will remain owing. General Interest Charges (GIC) may apply automatically to what you owe.

    You can get more details in PS LA 2011/17 Debt relief, waiver and non-pursuit.

    Making payments towards your debt on hold

    If your circumstances change and you are able to pay all or part of your debt, you can pay at any time. Payment options can be found on how to pay.

    If you are unable to pay in full, you can contact us to discuss payment options, including a payment plan.

    Offsetting credits

    Offsetting is where we use a credit or refund from one account to pay off an outstanding or on-hold debt on another account.

    We may offset credits from one of your accounts to reduce the amount you owe from your on-hold debt.

    An offset transaction can be found on your statement of account and in your Online Services account with the description 'Offset'.

    The law requires us to offset credits against any tax debt you owe, except in limited circumstances, including when:

    • you have a payment plan for all your outstanding debts, which you have been fully complying with
    • the tax debt has a future due date
    • the tax debt is for a director penalty liability
    • the available credit is a Family Tax Benefit amount
    • you have been granted a deferral of recovery action.

    To find out more, refer to Tax support for individuals or Tax support for businesses and not-for-profits.

    You can get more details in PS LA 2011/21 Offsetting of refunds and credits against taxation and other debts.

    For information about your rights and obligations visit taxpayers' charter.

    Re-raising debts on hold

    We may re-raise some or all a tax debt we previously placed on hold when new information becomes available that suggests recovery of the debt is now possible.

    We may reactivate your debts on hold if:

    • your situation has changed, and we have reason to believe you are now able to pay the debt
    • you agree to pay your debt
    • we offset a credit against your debt.

    Notifying you

    When a debt is re-raised, we will notify you or your authorised representative, either by phone or in writing.

    What to do if your debt is re-raised

    When we notify you that your debt has been re-raised, you need to pay the outstanding amount in full by the due date advised.

    If you are unable to pay by this date, you may be able to set up a payment plan to pay in instalments. For more information see support to lodge and pay.

    View a debt on hold transaction in ATO Online

    Individuals and sole traders:

    • visit Online services for individuals
    • select the Tax drop-down menu
    • select Accounts
    • select Tax accounts
    • choose the account you want to view
    • select Filter
    • update the 'from' date to 01/01/2000
    • scroll through the account or download CSV (Excel) file and search for the following transactions ‘non-pursuit’ 're-raise of non-pursuit', 'partial re-raise of non-pursuit' and 'cancellation of non-pursuit' – the net amount of the debit/s minus the credit/s is the remaining balance of the debt on hold.

    Registered tax professionals:

    • visit Online services for agents
    • visit View client list or Favourite clients (if you have added client to favourite list)
    • choose Client identifier
    • select the Accounts and payments drop-down menu
    • select Tax accounts
    • choose the account you want to view
    • select Filter
    • update the 'from' date to 01/01/2000
    • scroll through the account or download CSV (Excel) file and search for the following transactions ‘non-pursuit’ 're-raise of non-pursuit', 'partial re-raise of non-pursuit' and 'cancellation of non-pursuit' – the net amount of the debit/s minus the credit/s is the remaining balance of debt on hold.

    Businesses:

    • visit Online services for business
    • select the Accounts and payments drop-down menu
    • select Tax accounts
    • choose the account you want to view
    • select Filter
    • update the 'from' date to 01/01/2000
    • scroll through the account or download CSV (Excel) file and search for the following transactions ‘non-pursuit’ 're-raise of non-pursuit', 'partial re-raise of non-pursuit' and 'cancellation of non-pursuit' – the net amount of the debit/s minus the credit/s is the remaining non-pursued balance of debt on hold.
    Last modified: 16 Jun 2022QC 66102