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Part 4: Enforcement action by Revenue NSW

4.1 What Revenue NSW can do when a fine isn’t paid

The Fines Act 1996 (NSW) outlines the processes available to Revenue NSW to pursue payment of an unpaid fine. Revenue NSW must issue a notice and allow a period of 28 days before commencing enforcement action. If the fine remains unpaid after this period the following steps may be taken:

  • Notice that enforcement action will be taken
  • Licence suspension and vehicle registration cancellation
  • Civil enforcement, including:
  • property seizure order
  • garnishee order
  • examination summons
  • charge on land


You can stop the process if you set up a payment plan or apply for a Work and Development Order (WDO) or apply for Revenue NSW to write off your unpaid fines based on hardship. If an application for a payment plan, WDO or write off is declined, you can apply to the Hardship Review Board (HRB) for a review of Revenue NSW’s decision. [* see Part 5]

4.2 Licence suspension and vehicle registration cancellation

If you have not paid the fine by the due date on the Revenue NSW enforcement order, Transport for NSW will be directed to suspend your driver licence, unless you were under 18 at the time of the offence and the offence was not traffic related. If you do not make an arrangement to pay the fine within 21 days of the date of suspension, Revenue NSW will start civil action. If you do not make an arrangement to pay the fine after civil action, Revenue NSW may refer your fines to a debt collection agency.


Transport for NSW cannot impose driver licence restrictions (suspension) if you were under 18 at the time of the offence and the offence for which the fine was imposed was not traffic related.

Transport for NSW may also impose business restrictions, which means they could refuse to issue or renew a driver licence or allow an application for a driver licence, cancel your vehicle registration, refuse to renew registration and refuse to allow a vehicle’s registration to be transferred. A $40 fee will be added to your fines for any of these Transport for NSW actions. These actions can happen for any type of fine, not just driving-related ones.

Driving while your licence is suspended or cancelled or while your car is unregistered is an offence, and it can lead to more fines and the loss of your licence.

4.3 Civil action

If you do not have a licence or a registered vehicle, or the fine is still not paid after the due date, Revenue NSW can take civil action against you. For each action an enforcement cost of $65 is added to the fine. Revenue NSW can try to collect the unpaid fine or fines in the following ways.

4.3.1 Garnishee order

Revenue NSW can issue a garnishee order to an individual or an organisation that holds money belonging to you; usually, this means your bank and your employer. A garnishee order means money from your bank account or your wages is paid directly to Revenue NSW to pay off your fines. You must be left with a minimum balance amount (for example in your bank account). The minimum balance amount is updated by law every six months. If you are not left a minimum balance you should contact Revenue NSW or get legal advice.

Revenue NSW cannot directly garnishee Centrelink payments, but it can garnishee bank accounts containing Centrelink payments in accordance with the Social Security (Administration) Act. Section 62 of the Act sets out a formula for calculating a “saved amount”, which cannot be taken under the garnishee. Any amount in excess of the “saved amount” can be taken from the account.

Revenue NSW recognises that in certain circumstances a garnishee order may cause financial hardship. If this is the case, it is possible to apply for a full or partial refund of monies taken under a garnishee order. Evidence to support the claim, including a bank statement will need to be provided. Call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 for free legal help.

4.3.2 Property seizure order

A property seizure order issued by Revenue NSW gives the NSW Sheriff the power to take your goods and auction them. The money from the auction then goes to pay your fines.

The Sheriff is not required to return any property seized under a property seizure order, and any charge on land [* see Part 4.3.4] doesn’t have to be cancelled, even if you later set up a payment plan with Revenue NSW. The Sheriff only has to return your property and release charges on land once the fine is paid.

4.3.3 Order for Examination

Revenue NSW can send you an Order for Examination, which is an order from the court for you to go to court (they tell you the date and time) to answer questions and give them information, including documents, about your financial circumstances.

If you do not provide the information the court has asked you for, and you don’t have a good reason for that, you may be found to be in contempt of court – there are serious penalties for this.

4.3.4 Charge on land

If your fines add up to more than $1,000 and you own any land, the fines can be registered as a charge on land.

This means that Revenue NSW may register an interest in your property with the Registrar-General, Land Registry Service, which may affect your ability to sell the property.

4.3.5  External debt collection agencies

If civil action does not result in contact from a client, Revenue NSW may engage an external debt collection agency to assist with the recovery of the overdue fines debt. The agencies may contact clients by phone or in person and will explain the Revenue NSW options to resolve the debt. You will be referred back to Revenue NSW to take the appropriate action.