Raising children is not a cheap exercise, with education up there as one of the biggest expenses for most households.
The Education Tax Refund (ETR) came into effect a few years ago to help provide a tax break on certain education expenses. It allows families to claim up to 50 per cent of their education-related expenses up to $794 for each child at primary school (maximum refund of $397) and $1588 for each child at secondary school (maximum refund of $794) for the 2010–11 year.
Bob has one child at primary school and one at secondary. He will be able to claim a tax break of up to $2382 (or a maximum refund of $1191) for this year's education-related spending.
Only 33 per cent of claims made to date for the ETR were for the maximum entitlement. The average is $247 for each primary school student and $496 for high school students.
The ATO outlines that you can claim up to 50 per cent of your eligible expenses including the cost of buying, establishing, repairing and maintaining any of the following items:
- computer repairs
- computer software for educational use
- computer-related equipment such as printers, USB flash drives, as well as disability aids to
- assist in the use of computer equipment for students with special needs
- home internet connections
- laptops and home computers
- prescribed trade tools for secondary school trade courses
- school textbooks and other printed learning material, including prescribed textbooks, associated learning materials, study guides and stationery.
School uniforms purchased after 1 July 2011 will be claimable for the first time under the ETR.
You can't claim for the following education expenses:
- building levies
- computer games and consoles
- excursions and camps
- library book fees
- membership fees
- musical instruments
- school fees
- school photos
- school subject levies
- sporting equipment
- tuck shop expenses
According to government estimates, there are approximately 400 000 (one in five) parents who are eligible for the ETR but have not claimed for it.
The spouse who receives the family tax benefit should claim the ETR in his or her income tax return. It is important to keep all your receipts because the tax office may require you to show them as proof of purchase.
Only parents who are receiving, or eligible to receive, the Family Tax Benefit Part A payment are allowed to claim the ETR.