AN ALBURY tax office worker who wrongly claimed nearly $40,000 in payments from Centrelink is likely to be paying back the money for years.
Jodie Leigh Cornish had only told three people at the tax office about her offending before an appearance in the Wodonga Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Management were yet to find out about her offending, which spanned five-and-a-half years, and the future of her job is unclear.
The Border woman wrongly claimed $39,476 in single parenting benefits from the government by under-reporting her income.
Tax office records and Centrelink benefits were cross referenced, which discovered the irregularities.
Cornish started paying back the money once she was caught, but she still owes the government more than $33,000.
The court heard the single mother of two had been under incredible stress during the offending.
Her two boys have special needs, including cystic fibrosis and autism.
Her income from the ATO also fluctuated depending on her work.
While the court heard a jail term was within the scope of punishment, given the large amount of money obtained, magistrate Ian Watkins said he believed a prison term wasn't appropriate.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Ms Cornish, who was supported by her partner in court, wiped away tears as Mr Watkins noted the steps she had taken to repay the money.
He also noted the stress she had been under.
"This lady has an enormous amount on her plate with caring for two very high needs children," Mr Watkins said.
He placed her on a bond for 12 months and formally ordered she repay the $33,174 still owing.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here