Self-education expenses cap, election debate and Car FBT updates

Self-education expenses cap

Members will be aware of The Tax Institute's sustained advocacy against the Government's plans to cap self-education expense deductions at $2,000. Soon after the announcement in April this year we joined with the Law Council and expressed our strong concerns about this measure to the then Treasurer and Shadow Treasurer.

In addition to briefing other key stakeholders on the negative consequences of the measure, we then wrote to Prime Minister Rudd and new Treasurer Bowen. We have also written an opinion piece (and media release) on the issue: "Tax hike on learning earns Government the dunce's cap", which was published in the Financial Review, and we have co-authored a letter to the editor also published in the Financial Review. Last week we submitted to Treasury our formal position and arguments against the changes.

This week's update is that I joined with a selection of members of the #scrapthecap alliance in a meeting with the Shadow Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, where we discussed the adverse impact of the changes on legitimate claims for self-education expenses. In a positive development, Mr Pyne has issued the first public statement from the Opposition that argues against the Government's measure and calls on them to remove it.

We will continue to argue against the measure, as it is a blunt instrument that will provide a financial penalty to those seeking to self-fund their education. How is this consistent with the objective of building a smarter Australia?

Election Debate on tax policy

On Wednesday 24 July, The Tax Institute was proud to host the first debate of the 2013 Federal Election season focussed on tax policy. Assistant Treasurer, The Hon. David Bradbury MP, went head to head with Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Senator Mathias Cormann, to answer tax policy questions in relation to:

  • large business and multinationals
  • state taxes and consumption taxes
  • small business and personal taxation
  • superannuation
  • tax system governance.

Discussions at the debate were wide ranging and at times, heated, and included a focus on taxation of multinationals and GST reform.

Our facilitator, Kellie Connolly, called the debate a draw and it was clear to all present and tuning in via the live web-stream that our tax system faces immense challenges over the coming years, including complex tax laws, high reliance on corporate and income taxes and unprecedented international tax challenges.

We are proud to have facilitated tax policy and administration being at the forefront of the political discussion. In that spirit we have called on both major parties to commit to undertaking the bold tax reforms necessary and release detailed tax policies. We look forward to continuing to advocate for tax reform with our political leaders in the coming months.

Our media release issued following the debate and see below for details of the extensive media coverage of the event.

If you missed the debate and would like to catch-up, you can access it through our video on demand section.

FBT statutory formula method

This week I also met with the Leader of the Opposition, The Hon Tony Abbott MP; Shadow Treasurer, the Hon Joe Hockey MP; Shadow Finance Minister, the Hon Andrew Robb MP; and Shadow Industry Minister, Mrs Sophie Mirabella MP. This was part of a broader meeting with the motor vehicle industry and advisers to discuss the effects of the Government's decision to scrap the statutory formula method of calculating car fringe benefits tax liabilities.

The Opposition has committed to scrap this measure should it win office.

Robert Jeremenko

Robert Jeremenko CTA is Senior Tax Counsel of The Tax Institute.

The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.


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