Student tax claim confirmed by High Court

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“A little bit helps when you’re a student and on the youth allowance, so I think that might make things a little easier for the students.

“I’m really happy with the decision. I was expecting the result but I’m really happy we won. ”

Miss Anstis, now a primary school teacher in Springvale, said she went to the Australian High Court in Melbourne today to retrieve the judgment.

“The receptionist told us that before opening the envelope,” she said.

I was just really happy. I think we should celebrate but we haven’t really made any plans. We are just accepting what happened. ”

In its notice to the new federal government in September, the Treasury warned that if the High Court dismissed the tax commissioner’s appeal, there would be “significant budgetary implications.”

The cost to the budget is not known but is expected to be several million dollars.

Last year, Miss Anstis succeeded in claiming $ 920 in self-education expenses after battling the tax office in a number of jurisdictions for three years.

While studying full-time to become a teacher, Miss Anstis worked as a part-time sales assistant for the Katies chain of stores, where she earned $ 14,946.

She also received a youth allowance of $ 3,622 in the 2006 income year.

She claimed education costs, including travel expenses, supplies for children on teaching tours, student administration costs, and depreciation of her computer.

The tax office rejected the claim, so Miss Anstis and her father, Michael, who is a qualified lawyer but does not work as a lawyer, fought her until the Federal Court, which delivered its decision in Melbourne in November. last.

The full Federal Court upheld an earlier ruling that since the former student had to be enrolled in a full-time study program to obtain her taxable income from the youth allowance, all costs incurred in the course of studies should be deductible.

Around 440,000 students receive the youth allowance or the Austudy.

Many of those students would earn enough with the addition of part-time work to be tax liability, said associate professor Dale Boccabella of the University of NSW.

He said items from last year, including depreciation of computers, stationery or textbooks, could now be deducted.

In the past, the tax office had made it clear that it would not allow education expenses to be deducted from social assistance benefits.

“The ruling further complicates tax administration in the area of ​​self-education spending, an area that is already riddled with difficulties,” he said.

The Australian Tax Office has urged people who believe they might be affected by the ruling to be patient as it considers the impact of the ruling.

“We are paying urgent attention to the matter and will release further information as soon as possible,” a spokeswoman said.

Deputy Treasurer Bill Shorten issued a statement acknowledging the High Court’s ruling.

The statement says the Australian Taxation Office would analyze the judgment and issue a decision impact statement, which would set out the commissioner’s position and how the law would be applied following the decision. The declaration should take several days, if not several weeks.

Shorten’s statement said the government would “carefully review the judgment and the impact assessment of the decision” before issuing a new response.

Treasurer Wayne Swan is in Korea with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, where they are attending the G20 summit.

– with Heath Gilmore


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