What's In The 2011 Budget That Will Directly Affect You?

The 2011 Budget promises to return Australia to surplus by 2013, but for individuals, the devil is in the immediate detail. Here's Lifehacker's rundown of the key changes that will affect your wallet.

Picture by R Walker

FBT and company cars: The rules applying to fringe benefits tax rebates on company cars will change in what appears to be an environmentally-driven policy. The official line is: "The fringe benefits tax (FBT) valuation of car benefits will be reformed by removing the incentive for people to drive their car further in order to obtain a larger tax concession, and in the process burn more fuel."

Where previously the amount of FBT rebate was determined based on the distance the vehicle travelled, it will now be based on a flat rate of 20%. In effect, that means drivers who travel shorter distances (under 15,000 kilometres) are likely to get a bigger rebate, while those who travel more than 25,000 will see a smaller benefit. The new rules will apply to any company car contracts from now on, and will be phased in over four years for existing company car contracts.

Education tax refund. The education tax refund (ETR), which allows parents to claim some costs associated with purchasing computers, stationery and textbooks for school-age children, will be extended to cover the costs of school uniforms as well.

Family tax changes: There'll be no indexation of Family Tax Benefit, with payments remaining at current levels. If you're eligible, you'll still get the payment, but it's likely to pay for less as costs in general rise. However, payments for some families with teenagers will rise.

The dependent spouse tax offset is also being eliminated for anyone born after July 1 1971, as is the low income tax offset (to remove a potential rort where parents reassign income to their children to avoid tax payments).

HECS payment discounts shrinking. Life's going to get a bit tougher if you're a university student. From January 1 2012, the discount for paying HECS frees up-front will be reduced from 20% to 10%, and the bonus on voluntary payments over $500 against HECS debts to the ATO will drop from 10% to 5%. However, payments against HELP loans of more than $500 will now attract the same 5% bonus.

Digital TV subsidies: One of the most publicised pre-budget announcements was the annoucement of $376.5 million to continue funding access to digital set-top boxes for pensioners who might not otherwise be able to afford them. (That figure includes both hardware costs and installation, with the latter likely to consume more of the funding.) Pensioners only become eligible in the active "switchover" period six months before digital services are switched off in their region.

Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


Comments

    Great, my family gets less so some pensioner can watch Matlock.

      Think how much you have to look forward to when you're a pensioner! :)

      often the television is the only connection that many pensioners have with the outside world, as many live with disabilities, have very little money to spend on social activities and often they are socially isolated.
      so grow up boris, get an education and learn the word empathy.
      and goodluck for when you're a pensioner. tool

        >Asks for empathy
        >Calls someone a tool and questions their education.

      I installed Tvs for over eight years to domestic and commercial customers, the set top box has been available in Australia for over ten years and the public have been told since 2003 to PREPARE FOR DIGITAL, as 2008 was the original cut off time for analogue, until it was extended due to teething issues in some areas. A brand new STB in 2002 by thompson was about $800 and a HD toshiba would have set you back $1200 approx.Now people can get a basic STB for $49.95 out of any major retailer that will do the job just fine,if you read the instructions they can be running in five minutes .Why is the government paying for any of it.No body bought me my first tv, if I could not afford it then I didn't have one. This money would be better put to use in training australians that are out of work in trades at tafe.just a thought!:) By the way digital is not designed for use with rabbit ears it will pixilate every time you have crap weather.

      If only people understood a bit of economics...
      They would not be under the impression that a budget deficit is bad and will ruin the economy. Then they would stop pressuring the government to return to surplus, the government would happily borrow from China - resulting in there being no need for cuts in HECS refunds or spending on the health and education sectors.

      In other words, your family and every other family in Australia would be better off and pensioners would still be able to watch digital tv.

        well good on you dave, yet another bloody pensioner basher, im lucky on the pension to pay my bloody food cost each fornight let alone afford a damn stb, im very grateful that my children and I will benefit from the stb scheme that i wouldnt have been able to afford otherwise. hey dave have a look sometimes what a pensioner gets each fornight before you past judgement on us getting something for free .we get nothing for free thats a given!!

    I see a fantastic business opportunity in installing Digital set-top boxes in the not-too-distant future. It should be just as successful as my Insulation installation business was.

      wanna partnership in this installation scheme? hit me back asap.. You still got a ute from the insulation business coz i gotta little bit of cash flow:-)

      The business oportunity has already been given to a major contractor for data and telecommunication in my area and these guys will charge $50 to the government at the door before any work even gets done. once again tax payer money wasted.

    Even less incentive to pay off my HECS debt early.

    nothing in it for my family...we don't qualify for family tax benefit because our income is supposedly too high. In fact our income is not high enough to live in Sydney!! But now on top of everything else we are getting hit with the flood levy.

      Oh you poor thing, I know how tough it is to live on more than $100,000 a year... on that wage it must be hard to fathom giving a little extra to fix Queensland... maybe we should introduce a a whining middle class levy to support you in our time of need.

      • $100k for a family isnt exactl a lot of money. It's two people on low-ish average jobs (consider the avg. Grad salary is now $50k +. Especially once you consider childcare costs, transport,mortgages etc.

        The thing that grates is that the "middle class" are constanty getting milked to subsidize either laziness or incompetence. Why would the government reduce the discount on early payment of HECS loans when it will reduce the no. of people paying it off early, leaving more money outstanding on these things. Even worse is the way the Labor govt. goes on about a fought budget then deals out more cash. This TV rubbish smells like insulation rort all over again, and there is no guarantee the money raised by the flood levy will actually go to QLD.

    Wanting To Buy - Near built or Partially built National Broadband Network. Please Send Tell. Will accept reasonable offers, negotiable, only have one condition... Dont tell our Old people, they'll say we dont need it but then complain when we cant fix their computers and phones that use it. >.>

    It would be nice if the Gov' actually listened to the pensioners! Most of them have either already installed one or just plain don't want one. They'd rather use the money to improve their quality of life!!

      It's not like pensioners are forced to get one through the scheme -- it's just to ensure they have some TV access if they want it post switch-off.

        Hmmm,.. That's fine, but I still think this is a silly waste of money. I'm a Labor Voter, but between this and that stupid boat people swap, this Government has greatly eroded my vote for the next election... :[

    Good budget, getting rid of some middle class welfare (which most middle class dont actually qualify for), and removing some ridiculous incentives, like the FBT scaling for the more kms you drive... that was environmentally sustainable!

    As usual I get nothing. I would have liked to have seen some tinkering of the negative gearing rules to reduce speculation in property, but thats a dream, no govt will have the balls to implement that on.

      It seems as though this is another ill-conceived scheme which'll explode in the govt's face - the $400-each figure which is being thrown around will buy your Garnny McHypothetical a 32" fullHD with PVR from Kogan or a basic STB from Aldi ... with about $350 change.

      You can almost count the ways this multi-'00-million dollar stunt will go wrong...

      1. even one of the wonky brand they buy turns out to be faulty and burns someone's house down

      2. a booming industry in sub-standard installations run by dodgy ex-installation installers

      3. because "The Government" bought it for them, there will be suport and warranty calls forever

      4. a sudden flood of used or new STBs on ebay when Granny McHypothetical realises this is money for jam

      ...

      It's easy to be cynical but easier to justify it.

        Yep, exactly.

        If they were going to offer something a cashback scheme would have been a better one. With your $400 you can:
        buy a new tv, or part of a new tv which is digital; or
        Buy a $50 set top box and organise an installer to put it in for you.

        Much simpler and more cost effective to administer - Centrelink would be able to process it you'd think, less potential liability for the government. Good guys, Harvey Norman etc would be throwing themselves at a $400 TV & free Installation deals, meaning less rorting with a $350 dodgy installation charge.

        You'd possibly be even able to get some energy efficiencies, only providing the rebate to TVs bought with an certain star rating.

    And none of the points mentioned were relevant at all for me. I don't have a company car, kids, a HECS debt and I'm not a pensioner.

      ugh, this attitude.

      I'm sure you can comprehend what this budget means to others (people not yourself)?

        James, Im sure she does but if u look at the title of the article it specificly says " that will directly affect you" and thus i believe the response was acceptable unlike your trolling attitude.

    I currently pay 11% FBT on my lease as i naturally drive more, now i pay 20% to drive the same....why dont they do what Johnny did and sell everything the govt owns, that would put us in the black.

      Cause Johnny sold it all, there's nothing left to sell. Now we've gotta buy it back (NBN).

        why do we have to buy it back? (build the nbn)

    I would like to point out that the Internet Filter has been cancelled.

    http://www.budget.gov.au/2011-12/content/bp2/html/bp2_expense-04.htm

    (Last entry on the page).

      Voluntary Internet Filtering Grants Program

      This is not the Internet Filter. This was the grant program for ISPs that offered filters to customers for free. Nothing to do with the mandatory filter.

        My bad. I thought it was money so they could recover the costs the ISP's have to pay to implement the mandatory filter.

    I get nothing at all out of this. No surprises as a single home-renter who can't afford to buy at the moment :(

    doesn't really help students wanting to continue studying so that they can get an ok job sooner instead of a burger joint now.

    Wow, what a page of insular whinge! Perhaps if we moved some of you to, oh, Europe or the US for a while, you might realise what "austerity measures" can mean.

    I am *happy* to get nothing. I don't pay more tax, and the services available are increased. The federal budget isn't Christmas, you know. You don't "deserve" anything!

      I agree. As a fast-approaching-middle-age single person on less than $45k per annum, I never get anything much back from any govt. As long as they don't actually make me pay more or take away entitlements I already get, I am happy. I accept that budgets etc are aimed at the majority, which is unfortunately not my demographic.

    What happened to the threat of taking away childcare rebate for above family earned $150,000? Did Swan change his mind?

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