With the 2012 school year well and truly started, parents may now be getting those dreaded bills for ‘back to school’ items. Our message is – keep your receipts! You may just be entitled to the government’s Education Tax Refund.
What is the Education Tax Refund (ETR)?
The Education Tax Refund (ETR) provides government assistance to those families educating children. The refund provides up to 50% back on a range of education expenses. For the 2011-12 tax year this refund could be as much as $409 for primary school children and $818 for secondary school students.
Am I eligible for the ETR?
You can claim the ETR if you had ‘eligible education expenses’ during the financial year for a child who meets the ‘schooling requirement’, and:
- you received Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A for the child; or
- a payment was made for the child which prevented you from receiving the FTB Part A; or
- your child stopped full-time school during the year and received income over the cut-out amount which prevented you from receiving FTB Part A for the child.
Providing you have lodged a claim and been approved for FTB Part A, then you can claim the ETR in your Income Tax Return.However, there are other circumstances in which you can claim the ETR – even if you do not receive FTB Part A. Other payments which still entitle you to receive the ETR include:
- Youth Allowance;
- Disability Support Pension;
- ABSTUDY Living Allowance;
- the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme;
- Student Financial Supplement Scheme; and
- the scheme to provide education & training under s258 of the Military Rehabilitation & Compensation Act 2004
The ‘schooling requirement’ provides that a child or independent student must be:
- registered or enrolled in a primary or secondary school course provided at an educational institution, such as a school or TAFE (secondary school study only);
- registered or enrolled with the education authority of their State or Territory as a home schooled student; or
- registered or enrolled in a course of study or instruction covered under the Student Assistance Act 1973 and which the ETR applies to.
What expenses can I claim?
To claim, the expense must be an ‘eligible education expense’ which is:
- incurred by an eligible person;
- for a child or independent student’s education;
- an item specified in the legislation as an eligible education expense; and
- incurred on a day when the child or independent student satisfied the ‘schooling requirement’.
‘Eligible expenses’ include the cost of buying, establishing, repairing and maintaining any of the following items:
- home computers and laptops;
- computer related equipment (eg. printers, USBs etc)
- computer repairs;
- home internet connections;
- computer software for educational use;
- school textbooks, associated learning materials, study guides and stationery; and
- prescribed trade tools for secondary school trade courses.
From 1 July 2011, the government will now also recognise school-approved uniforms as ‘eligible education expenses’. Items such as hats, footwear and sports attire which are distinctive and recognised by the school as uniforms may be claimed.
What is not claimable as ‘eligible education expenses’ are:
- school fees;
- student attendance at school-based extra-curricular activities (eg. excursions, camps etc);
- tutoring costs;
- sporting equipment;
- musical instruments;
- school subject levies;
- building levies;
- library book fees;
- school photos;
- tuckshop expenses;
- waiting list fees;
- membership fees; and
- computer games and consoles.
For more information on the topic of the Education Tax Refund: