Can I claim anything for the cost of my children's education?
A refundable tax offset of 50% of expenditure incurred from 1 July, 2010 on key educational items like textbooks, stationery, computers, software and the internet is available to families that qualify for, and have received FTB Part A in the 2011 income year. From 01 July 2011 the government will extend the Education Tax Refund to cover school uniforms expenses – making them claimable in the 2012 income tax return. The taxpayer must be eligible for and made a claim for FTB Part A before they can receive this offset. If no claim has been made it is important to make the claim before lodging the tax return.
The maximum rebatable expenditure is capped each year and is currently $794 for each primary school student and $1,558 for each secondary school student. This represents a maximum refundable offset of $397 for a primary school child or $794 for a secondary school student. All receipts for eligible expenses should be kept.
I have started living with my same-sex partner. He does not work and I support him? Is there any benefit that I can claim on my tax return?
Since 1 July 2009 the definition of 'spouse' has changed to include same-sex partners. If you are living in a domestic situation in a relationship as a couple you will be entitled to claim the same benefits that can be claimed by partners in an opposite-sex relationship. If you pass the relevant income tests you may be able to claim a dependent spouse tax offset, provided there are no children. Depending on your combined income you may also be entitled to claim a reduction in the amount of Medicare levy you pay. Any other tax benefits you may be entitled to will be determined on the basis of your income, not your gender.
I have married during the year. What effect does this have on the tax returns that my wife and I have to lodge?
If you married during the year you may be eligible to claim a tax offset for your spouse, which will depend on your spouse's and your own adjusted taxable income. A Medicare reduction may also be available. You will need to know the income of your spouse before and after marriage. If your spouse has earned income during the year, she will also have to lodge her own return. On both of your returns you will be required to disclose information about the other partner so that any entitlement you may have to certain benefits can be calculated correctly.
In the 2011–12 Federal Budget the government announced that, from 1 July 2011 that the dependent spouse rebate will be phased out for taxpayers with a dependent spouse born on or after 1 July 1971. The aim of this reform is to address a barrier to participation by progressively removing tax concessions for taxpayers with a non-working spouse and no dependent children. Taxpayers with an invalid or permanently disabled spouse, supporting a carer, or people who are eligible or the zone, overseas forces and overseas civilian tax offsets will not be affected by this reform.
I bought an iPad this year for my daughter to use for school. Can I add the cost to my Education Tax Refund claim?
The ATO will allow the cost of an iPad as an eligible education expense if it was bought for a primary or secondary school student to use for their study. It is treated as an equivalent to a laptop. Provided that you are eligible to make a claim, you can include the cost of the iPad in the calculation of the Education Tax Offset this year.
I have been receiving fortnightly payments of the Family Tax Benefit all year. Do I still have a deadline for lodging my tax return?
You have 12 months after the end of the year to lodge your tax return so that the FOA can check that you have been receiving the correct amount. If you overestimated your income you will receive a top-up payment but if you underestimated your income they will require the overpayment to be paid back. This means that for payments received during the 2010-2011 income year you will be required to lodge your 2011 tax return by 30 June, 2012. If you have a partner their tax return will also have to be lodged by that date. Failure to meet the deadline could result in your payments being stopped and the repayment of amounts already received. If you are not required, by the tax office, to lodge a tax return then you should notify the FAO.