I have a love/hate relationship with Centrelink – or the Department of Human Services as they are now called. While this social service is wonderful, as an accountant unless I am specifically authorised by my client to deal directly with this government organisation they won’t speak to me. Instead they collect information from the Australian Taxation Office which is great but it becomes a little bit of a process. The information goes from you to me to the ATO and then to Centrelink and then Centrelink contact you – usually by letter.
The latest change is the abolition of the Education Tax Refund. I have spent all year telling people to keep the tax invoices for school expenses including uniforms to now tell you that this was totally useless as Education Tax Refund is no longer. The box on the tax return to make the claim has been removed. Sorry if you were one of the diligent people who did keep the receipts, if only there was a crystal ball.
The new payment is called the Schoolkids Bonus and it will be paid directly by Centrelink/Department of Human Services. The benefits are that eligible families will receive the payment ahead of the school year (generally in January) which means the funds can easily be used to assist with back to school expenses. There’s no requirement to keep receipts or make a separate claim.
To be eligible you need to be receiving or be entitled to receive Family Tax Benefit Part A for a dependant child who is:
- 5 to 11 years of age (primary education) or
- 12 to 15 years of age (secondary education) or
- 16 to 18 (or turning 19 years of age in the school year) and
- in full time secondary study or exempt from full time study.
For this year a payment was made in June to compensate for not being able to claim this in your 2012 income tax return. If you didn’t receive a payment, it could be because you were waiting to receive your Family Tax Benefit after your tax return was lodged or your child completed high school at the end of 2011. I recommend lodging your tax return as soon as possible and then once you receive your notice of assessment contacting Centrelink on 132 468 if you still haven’t received your payment.
The payments for this year are $409 for a primary school child and $818 for a secondary school child. In January these amounts will increase to $410 and $820 respectively. As the payment is no longer part of your income tax return, we will have no way of tracking whether you have or will be paid these amounts so please make sure you have received this payment for the 2012 year if you are entitled to it. As always, happy to answer any questions you may have about this or any of our blog posts.