Coalition scraps FBT and self-education tax changes

Healthcare workers are claiming a major win following the Coalition Government’s decision to ditch Labor’s controversial cap on tax-deductible self-education expenses and changes to the Fringe Benefits Tax.

Healthcare workers are claiming a major win following the Coalition Government’s decision to dump a range of tax changes including Labor’s controversial $2,000 cap on tax-deductible self-education expenses.

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey said 80 per cent of those affected by the self-education cap earned less than $80,000 and there was no credible evidence of substantial abuse of the deduction.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the cap would have greatly reduced the uptake of professional development courses at universities and TAFE colleges.

When he announced the cap in April, former treasurer Wayne Swan said some workers were enjoying significant private benefits at taxpayers’ expense including first-class airfares and five-star accommodation.

The Coalition said it would monitor any evidence of systematic rorting but was confident this was not the case. It also said the economic cost of the initiative was substantial.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation welcomed the axing of the cap and described it as a victory for common sense.

ANMF federal secretary Lee Thomas said given that it was mandatory for nurses and midwives to undertake continuing professional development, the cap would have acted as a real barrier to annual registration and clinical skills development.

AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said the proposed cap was poor policy and would have made it increasingly difficult for doctors to provide quality healthcare.

Dr Hambleton said rural doctors and doctors in training would have been hit particularly hard.

In an unprecedented lobbying and social media campaign, more than 70 organisations joined the ‘Scrap the Cap Alliance’ which covered more than 1.6 million professionals including nurses, allied health professionals, lawyers and accountants.

More than 20 000 people signed an online scrap the cap petition.

Related story: 10 000 sign petition to dump education cap

Fringe Benefits Tax changes ditched

As foreshadowed during the election, Mr Hockey confirmed the government would not proceed with Labor’s changes to the Fringe Benefits Tax on company or salary sacrificed vehicles, which would have resulted in $1.8 million in savings.

The aged care industry strongly opposed the changes on the grounds that it would have negatively impacted the not-for-profit sector’s ability to deliver services and recruit and retain staff, whose packages commonly included a leased car.

Read the government’s full list of changes to tax and super announcements here

Related AAA coverage: Anger over FBT changes

Tags: continuing education, fbt, scrap-the-cap, tax,

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