If you've been to university in the last two decades, you'll have accumulated a HELP debt at some point. Most people don't start paying that off until they hit the workforce. Here is how HELP repayments will work in the 2012-2013 financial year.
Picture by Alan Levine
The threshold for HELP repayments is now $49,095: in practical terms, around $944 pre-tax a week. (In 2011-2012, it was $47,195.) HELP debts are also indexed each year to reflect the consumer price index; on July 1, your debt will have gone up by 2.9 per cent.
If you earn above the threshold, you need to make sure your employer knows, so that your tax payments can be adjusted appropriately. Otherwise, you'll end up getting an unexpected bill. These are the extra amounts that apply for a range of typical weekly incomes:
|Weekly income||HELP amount|
And these are the official percentages used to calculate your extra payments:
|Weekly income ($)||HELP repayment percentage|
|0 to 943.99||0.0|
|944.00 to 1,050.99||4.0|
|1,051.00 to 1,158.99||4.5|
|1,159.00 to 1,219.99||5.0|
|1,220.00 to 1,310.99||5.5|
|1,311.00 to 1,419.99||6.0|
|1,420.00 to 1,494.99||6.5|
|1,495.00 to 1,644.99||7.0|
|1,645.00 to 1,752.99||7.5|
|1,753.00 and over||8.0|
When you submit your 2011-2012 tax return, your relevant compulsory HELP repayments will be automatically calculated and included in your final refund calculation. There's a discount for extra repayments, which works out at 5 per cent of the repaid amount, so if you pay $1000, you'll be credited for $1050. Whether those payments make sense depends on your individual financial circumstances (and, as ever, you should seek professional advice if you're unsure or planning anything complicated).