Coalition ups ante on Australian school tax rebates

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott
Image: Bidegee.

Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott has pledged private school relief if the Liberal/National coalition wins the upcoming federal election. The pledge came in response to the Australian Labor Party leader, and current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard proposing a uniform and school equipment tax break expansion.

Abbott's proposal includes an offer of tax rebates for sending a child to a private school. For students in primary school, prep to grade 6, the rebate will rise to $500 Australian a year per student and families will be then able to claim 50% rebate up to $1000.

"We are expanding the rebate so it can be claimed for school fees and also for other educational costs such as tuition and special educational costs for children with, for instance, dyslexia," Abbott said at a press conference in Brisbane.

Before the election was called, Gillard had aimed to pledge $220 million over four years to expand the current tax breaks to cover refunds each worth $390 for primary school uniforms and $779 for high school uniforms, as well as refunds for other school equipment like texts books and computers.

"We all know that uniforms can be an expensive part of sending kids to school, but this change, along with the existing refund for textbooks and computers, will help families with that cost," stated Gillard.

An opposition spokesperson claimed that the "obvious flaw in Labor's policy is that it only applies to stationery, computer expenses and uniforms [...] You know as a parent that you need help for a whole range of expenses. Extra teachers for children with dyslexia or the costs of doing music and all the other expenses like excursions and so forth."

The expansion is expected to cost $760 million in total and one that Abbott claims needs to happen as "cost of living pressures tend to be greatest when your kids are at school".

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