Summary - Australian Government has expanded
the Education Tax Refund.
The Australian Government recently expanded the Education Tax
Refund (ETR) – which helps families meet
the cost of primary and secondary education – to include
Schools should be aware that they may be asked by parents to
provide evidence of amounts paid to them by, or for, their
What is the ETR and how has it changed?
The ETR allows eligible parents, carers, legal guardians and
independent students to claim a refund each year of up to 50% of
eligible education expenses up to certain maximum amounts.
By virtue of the recent expansion of the ETR, school-approved
uniforms purchased from 1 July 2011 may be claimed from 1 July
2012. To be eligible for claiming, uniforms need to be distinctive
and recognised by the school but are not limited to items
displaying the school crest.
What are "eligible education expenses"?
"Eligible education expenses" are items that support a
student's primary or secondary school education. They include
the purchase, lease, hire or hire-purchase cost, repairs and
running costs of eligible items.
Example of eligible education expenses include:
Laptops, desktop computers and printers
Stationery, text books, exercise books and reference books such
as dictionaries and encyclopaedias
Internet connections, computer software for educational use and
USB flash drives
Prescribed trade tools required to complete a school-based
Uniforms – including hats, footwear and sports
uniforms – approved by a school as its uniform
What do schools need to know?
For families to be able to claim the ETR, a school statement or
receipt should list eligible education expenses separately to
non-eligible fees and expenses. School fees are not an eligible
education expense. So, when a school issues a statement or receipt
for school fees which includes eligible educational expenses such
as the cost of text books, parents will be able to claim that part
of the school fee attributable to the eligible items if those items
are itemised or listed separately on the statement or receipt. A
school can assist parents by breaking down the statement or receipt
to show the apportionment of expenses instead of issuing a
"lump sum" statement or receipt for school fees and
Otherwise, a school may provide a separate notice in writing
– either at the time the statement or receipt is issued
or at a later date – advising of the amount that relates
to eligible items. This written notice will be evidence enough for
a parent making an ETR claim for those items.
Schools should keep a record of how any apportionment is made to
assist with any queries. However, as it is not the school's
responsibility to specify what is and is not an eligible education
expense, schools should be aware that they cannot be questioned by
the ATO as to how they determined whether specific expenses are
eligible. The onus is on the parent to identify what is an eligible
The Australian Government ETR website at www.educationtaxrefund.gov.au
is a very useful resource for families and schools to provide
further information in relation to the ETR. The website provides a
helpful Fact Sheet and an A3 poster which schools may distribute or
display to assist eligible families in claiming all that they are
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