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Self-education tax grab disaster

The Federal Government's proposed $2000 cap on the tax deductibility of self-education expenses is short-sighted, regressive and threatens Australia's longer term productivity and international competitiveness.

Self-education tax grab disaster
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  • andrewconway
  • June 02, 2013
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There is no question that the tax deductibility of self-education expenses was not designed to facilitate first class international travel. However this is Treasurer Wayne Swan's main argument when prosecuting his case for this tax grab.

Self-education is a critical component of sustainable economic growth. America's Career Resource Network has explained through their research that informed and considered career decisions to undertake further education leads to:



  • higher incomes and increased tax revenues;



  • lower rates and shorter periods of unemployment; and



  • increased worker productivity.



To place a ball and chain around the ankles of Australians seeking to advance their knowledge base, remain up to date and at more advanced levels, undertake research, fails economics '101'.

By way of practical example, at the Institute of Public Accountants we require our members to undertake at least 40 hours of continuing professional education every year. This education can be undertaken in a number of ways from a range of sources; however the critical driver is to ensure public accountants maintain the highest possible standard of professional knowledge and competence. This is because Australians place their faith in their trusted adviser that they are up to date.

The impact of this short term tax grab is not just confined to accounting. Take doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, plumbers, builders, OH&S professionals, police, anyone undertaking further education, or dare we say it - politicians.

To impose a blanket removal of incentives to undertake self-education will cause deep and long-lasting damage to Australia's productivity and our position in a rapidly increasingly competitive region. As the mobility of professionals increases within Asia, our young people are having to compete with their counterparts from China in staggering numbers. It is reported that China is producing more than 20 million university graduates every year.

By all means narrow the application of the deduction to avoid supporting first class travel to conferences, but capping it will be disastrous.

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