While political obsessives argue over the potential electoral impact of Budget 2013, what the majority of people are immediately concerned with are the changes they'll see in their monthly pay packet or in the world around them. Here are the 10 items from the Federal budget you're most likely to care about.
Picture: Stefan Postles/Getty Images
While some of these decisions might well be reversed if the government changes in September, some almost certainly won't (the Opposition supports the rise in the Medicare levy, for instance). At any event, this is what we know ahead of the Wednesday night budget reply speech.
1. Increased Medicare levy
In the 2014-2015 tax year, the Medicare levy will rise by 0.5 per cent to help fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme. (Your employer should deduct this automatically.)
2. No more discounts for up-front university fees
Right now, if you pay university fees (HELP) up-front, you receive a 10 per cent discount, and if you make a voluntary payment of more than $500, you receive a five per bonus. Both options will be removed from 1 January 2014, so if you're keen to take advantage, you'll need to do so in the next six months.
3. No more not medical expenses tax offset
Currently, if you spend more than $2000 out of pocket on medical expenses (that is, after any health fund payments), you can claim 20 per cent of the total as an offset. That will be phased out gradually from next year, so 2012-2013 will be the last year you can claim it.
4. Lower education expense tax claims
Self-education expenses have long been claimable as a tax deduction, but from 1 July 2014 the rules will be stricter: the amount will be capped at $2000.
5. Increasing superannuation guarantee levels
Currently, employers have to pay 9 per cent of salaries as compulsory superannuation. That figure is scheduled to rise annually by 0.5 per cent, topping out at 12 per cent in 2019.
6. Higher Medicare Extended Safety Net thresholds
From 1 January 2015, the threshold for Medicare Safety Net payments (which help cover medical costs if you have an unusually large set of expenses) will rise from $1221.90 to $2000.
7. Cigarette prices to rise from March 2014
If you're unfortunate enough to be a smoker, your expensive habit is about to get ever-so-slightly more expensive: from March 2014, prices will rise by around seven cents a packet due to changes in how excise is calculated.
8. No more baby bonus
From 1 March 2014, the $5000 "baby bonus" payment will be scrapped. New parents will be eligible for an increased level of Family Tax Benefit-A ($2000 for the first child and $1000 for subsequent children), but the rules are tighter: qualification for FTB-A cuts out at around $112,000 in household income, while the baby bonus cuts off at $150,000. (Bear in mind that 90 per cent of taxpayers earn less than $105,000 a year.)
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