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Associations concerned about work-related self-education expenses cap

Members of Associations Forum are concerned following Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan's recent announcement of his plans to introduce a $2000 cap on work-related self-education expense deductions.

Following the announcement, a number of members contacted Associations Forum to express their concerns and seek more information.

General Manager of Associations Forum, John Peacock, has responded by writing to the Treasurer on behalf of near to 500 member associations. The following quotes appear in the letter.

"Many charities and not-for-profit organisations are not wealthy and cannot afford to fund employee education expenses. Thus employees undertake education at their own expense, particularly by attending conferences and training workshops to increase their skills," said Peacock.

"We note the Government's rationale that work related self-education expenses can be better targeted. According to Taxation Statistics 2010–11, released by the Australian Taxation Office in April 2013, tax deduction claims from individual taxpayers for self-education purposes was $1,166 million in income year 2010–11 (taxation year 2011–12)," he continued.

"In your media release of 13th April you state 'Without a cap on the amount that can be claimed under this deduction, it's possible to make large claims for expenses such as first class airfares, five star accommodation and expensive courses.' Associations Forum agrees that targeting of taxation concessions is prudent economic management. However, we believe the announced limit of $2,000 is too low," he said.

"As an example, the conference of the International Council of Nurses held in Melbourne in May 2013 had a registration fee of $1,249 for members. Adding airfares and accommodation would result in a total cost of over $2,000. We would also argue that some travel and accommodation costs should be deductible and that this is a necessary expense for most delegates attending national conferences," said Peacock.

"We also note that some in the associations sector are located in rural or remote locations e.g. the outback and Tasmania, and that they will incur substantial costs in travel to attend seminars and conferences, often interstate or overseas. These people should not be penalised for living outside major metropolitan centres. In some specialist health occupations, mandatory CPD requirements oblige them to travel to international conferences in order to achieve their minimum required hours," said Peacock.

Associations Forum seeks the Government's review of the stated reform and an adjustment to the limit which will retain an employee’s incentive to invest in work related self-education through tax deductions.

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