Education tax refund not uniform

EXTENDING the Federal Education Tax Refund to cover the cost of uniforms may lead to an increase in the quality of uniforms purchased but those who pay the most for them on the Coffs Coast could find themselves ineligible.

“Maybe I'd be much more willing to buy the ‘cool' shorts if we're getting some of the money back,” said Coffs Harbour mum Caitlin Mackie.

Caitlin clothes two high school and one primary school boy in uniforms each year and has taken advantage of the current education tax refund.

Under the plan announced this week by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, parents will be able to claim up to 50 per cent of the cost of uniforms.

The maximum educational rebate is currently $390 a year for each primary school-aged child and $779 for each high school student.

However, only uniforms bought during the next financial year can be claimed on tax, with the first of the refunds to be paid in 2012/2013.

“Quite frankly, I wouldn't spend $750 on each child each year,” Mrs Mackie said.

She kits out each child in two uniform shorts, shirts, a tracksuit, a set of sports uniforms and “endless socks”.

“I greatly welcome the help with shoes, as I barely get one year out of them. By the time we get to presentation day, they're looking pretty shabby,” she said.

“How's Julia Gillard going to police the cool factor? Are they covering brand-name sneakers? What's going to be covered? Some of the shorts in stores are a bit too daggy.”

Uniform costs on the Coffs Coast vary considerably, as many primary school students can buy off-the-shelf clothing for as little as $5 a piece during sales, while private school families pay a great deal more for blazers and compulsory school bags.

The sting is that those who pay the most may be ineligible for support, as the rebate is only available for families in receipt of Family Tax Benefit Part A or families with children receiving other government allowances.

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