Dear Lifehacker, I have a question in regard to tax deduction. If I take a Commonwealth supported place in my master degree study and pay my student contribution amount in full up-front, can I claim that as an education expense? It's not the amount I am paying back, it's the upfront student contribution amount. Hope to hear from you ASAP! Thanks, TaxTroubled
You're right that a CSP student contribution is different to a HELP debt repayment, which is one of the expenses that the Government specifically says that you can't claim as a tax deduction. However, it is a Government subsidised place, meaning that the Government is already putting money towards your education. Accordingly, they're not too keen on you claiming your contribution on tax.
From the government CSP and HELP handbook:
11.7 Are the student contributions paid by students enrolled in CSPs tax deductible? No. Student contributions paid by students enrolled in CSPs are not tax deductible. Given the CSP is already subsidised by the Australian Government, the student is not eligible for further tax subsidies.
However, as a student, there may still be a number of deductions you can claim -- provided, of course, that your field of study relates closely enough to your current job. Specific items and expenses that can be claimed are also listed on the ATO website:
•textbooks, professional and trade journals •stationery •photocopying •computer expenses •student union fees •student services and amenities fees •accommodation and meals, where the course requirements require you to be away from home for one or more nights •running expenses if you have a room set aside for self-education purposes – such as the cost of heating, cooling and lighting that room while you are studying in it •allowable travel expenses.
While you won't be able to claim your contribution on tax, being offered a Commonwealth supported place is still a great alternative to having to pay off a standard HELP debt.
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