The first budget for the Abbott government is packed with broken promises and fiscal austerity. But whether you support it or hate it, it’s going to make a difference to how you earn and spend your money. Here’s what’s changing (and when).
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In this roundup, we’re focusing on the stuff that will directly impact individuals: where you’ll pay more (or receive less), and when that will happen. If you want a broader overview of how the Budget impacts technology, Luke at Gizmodo has you covered, with pieces on what’s happening to science funding, online censorship, the NBN and game industry funding.
Petrol prices go up
Fuel excise rates are now going to be reindexed every six months, starting from 1 August. It’s estimated that this will result in an increase of 1 cent/litre every year (independent of other pricing changes). Bottom line: fuel will cost you more.
Everyone pays to go to the doctor
Even if your doctor offers bulk billing, you’ll have to pay $7 per visit from 1 July 2015. If your doctor bills you directly, you’ll pay an extra $5 per visit. Extra fees will also apply if you go to a hospital emergency department and it decides you could have gone to a GP instead. Children under 16 and people with concession cards will only have to pay for a maximum of 10 visits a year.
Another health change: Medicare will only cover one free eye examination every three years, rather than every two years. If you buy a medicine covered by the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, you’ll have to pay an additional $5 towards costs, as the maximum contribution has been increased to $42.70.
As was widely foreshadowed, if you earn above $180,000, you’ll pay an extra 2 per cent tax in the 2014/2015 tax year, and for the two years after that. Budget figures suggest this will impact around 400,000 people.
A bigger impact: Access to Family Tax Benefit Part B is being tightened. This will now cut out if the main income earner in a family earns more than $100,000, down from a previous cap of $150,000. It will also stop as soon as the youngest child in the family turns six. Currently, around 60 per cent of households receive the benefit. It will also be frozen for the next two years, with no changes for inflation.
Higher university fees
From July 2016, students with HELP debts will have to begin repayments when their income hits $50,638 a year, down 10 per cent from the current level. This only applies to new students; for current students, existing arrangements remain in place until 2020. Universities will also be allowed to set their own course fees without any cap applying, so some courses will become more expensive. This will kick in from 2015 as well.
Interest rates for HELP indexation will no longer be capped at the rate of inflation, but instead at the level of government borrowing — which means they’re likely to increase faster, making repayments a higher priority for some graduates.
Lifehacker’s weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.