by JENNY MACKLIN
This morning, the Treasurer and I walked to school. We hadn’t done it for a while, not since our own kids were little.
Before the bell rang, we had coffee and a chat with local parents Elizabeth and Anthony about what they do to make sure their kids are at school and ready to learn.
I think we could have spent the whole day just running through the checklist.
I know exactly what it’s like. My kids are grown up now, but I remember very clearly all the items we had to buy before they started school. Books, pens, pencils, rulers and folders – the list goes on and on. And it gets harder as they get older, and start needing things like computers that seem to cost more than a small car.
That’s before you even get to the uniform shop. And there are the costs that pop up throughout the year, like excursions, music lessons and school camps. Not to mention new school shoes.
I know that the Education Tax Refund has helped a lot of families with these sorts of expenses. Each year at tax time, families could get a bit back for what they’ve spent on school costs.
But I also know that the Education Tax Refund wasn’t helping some families as much as it could have. In fact, about one million families weren’t claiming their money back, or weren’t claiming their full entitlement.
For a lot of people, it was just too expensive to pay up front for all the school costs, and then wait months to get some money back.
The other headache for parents was remembering to keep track of all those receipts so that you can claim at tax time. I know parents have enough going on without having to worry about that.
That’s why we’re changing the system and introducing the upfront, guaranteed Schoolkids Bonus.
From today, families will start receiving this extra help as part of the transition from the ETR to the Schoolkid Bonus.
For eligible families with primary school children, you’ll be receiving $409 per child and for families with secondary school children you’ll be receiving $818 per child. Then from next year, we’ll pay the Schoolkids Bonus in two separate installments – before the start of Term 1 and Term 3 – so the money is in your pocket when you need it.
This will be worth about $410 a year for each child in primary school, and $820 a year for each child in high school.
In all, the Schoolkids Bonus will help 1.3 million families to pay for school expenses.
The Schoolkids Bonus means families don’t have to fill out the extra forms, they don’t have to collect all the receipts, and for most families, it means more money in their pocket.
It’s some extra help to makes life a bit easier.
And for Elizabeth and Anthony, it made the walk to school a little lighter this morning.
Jenny Macklin is the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and Minister for Disability Reform.
Did you keep all your receipts each year so that you could claim the old education tax refund? Will this new policy make it easier for you? Do you think this is good Government spending or would you rather see the money go towards other things?