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Managing It

Repossession – know your rights

WHAT TO DO If you receive a default notice, act immediately. Pay the arrears within 30 days if you can. If you can’t, contact the credit provider and ask to speak to a ‘hardship officer’ or to ‘customer service’ (see 'At the end of your tether' for more information). If the lender won’t agree to a repayment arrangement, lodge a dispute in writing to the lender’s External Dispute Resolution Scheme (All lenders must be a member of an EDR scheme.) EDR is free and will stop all legal action, including repossession, until the EDR Scheme has considered your dispute.

Budgeting blues? There’s an app for that

THE APPY COUNTRY Australians lead the world in the use of mobile banking applications, interacting with our banks via apps more than any other method. According to a recent Bain and Company survey, we use apps for 38% of bank interactions, and desktop online banking for another 35% (and hardly ever walk into a branch).

When DON’T you need to lodge a tax return?

IF YOU DO NOT NEED TO LODGE A RETURN… …but you have previously lodged returns, you're still not entirely off the hook. You should submit a "Non-lodgment Advice" to the Australian Taxation Office. IF YOU DO NEED TO LODGE ONE... ...and are doing it yourself (rather than via a tax agent), you need to lodge it by 31 October or you could face a penalty.

Making tax time as painless as possible

WORK THE TIMING If you’re expecting a tax return, get your return in as quickly as you can to receive the money earlier. If you’re expecting to make a payment, hold off your return until close to the deadline. For most of us, that is 15th May in the following year (unless you lodge it yourself in which case it’s 31st October in the current year). Check ATO lodgment dates for individuals, if you’re not sure.

Could a ‘Part 9’ Debt Agreement solve your debt problems?

BEWARE THE EQUITY STRIPPERS A small but dangerous minority of finance businesses has been found to churn clients from one loan to another, often exaggerating the threat of repossession. Each time, large fees (sometimes tens of thousands of dollars) reduce the owners’ equity in the home, leaving them worse off and ultimately more likely to lose their home. If you are contemplating refinancing, read this first.