|HOME SCHOOLING / INTERNATIONAL|
Homeschooling Parents Seek Tax Equity
By Stuart Chapman
While homeschoolers do not want additional government oversight and prefer to be left alone, many families in Australia would like to qualify for government tax refunds that other families receive based on their student’s school attendance.
Currently, parents who homeschool in Australia do not receive any government funding—although they support all other children who attend schools through their taxes.
Comparatively, government funding for schools in Australia exceeds thousands of dollars per student. When all sources of income are taken into account, including fees and funding for capital works, government schools spent an average $11,591 per student, Catholic schools an average $11,539, and independent schools an average $16,309. State and federal governments provide independent schools with an average $6,991 per student and Catholic schools with an $8,336 average per student, while $11,591 was provided for the average public school student. (See recent article in The Australian about government funding for schools in Australia.)
In addition, a number of government family benefits are tied to school attendance, which in the past has excluded homeschoolers. The “Youth Allowance” is paid to students who are 16 or older and are attending a registered education provider full-time. Homeschooled children are not eligible for this even if they are studying full-time at home. This is unjust. More recently, a new benefit has been introduced entitled the “School Kids Bonus,” which replaced a previous benefit called Education Tax Refund. The previous benefit was available to homeschooled families who applied, but it is not clear whether or not the new benefit requires school attendance.
The author of this article has made repeated requests to the Department of Human Services that homeschoolers still be entitled to this benefit, worth up to $820 per child each year. At the time of the writing no definitive answer had been given.
Ed. note: The author subsequently reported to HSLDA that the Australian government has officially responded stating that homeschool families are eligible to receive the School Kids Bonus as long as they are enrolled or registered with a State or Territory education authority. However, many families in Australia choose not to register their homeschool. The number of children who are unregistered is impossible to determine but estimates range from an extra 5,000 to 15,000 students.
In other news, the national radio broadcaster recently ran an hour-long program on homeschooling. The usual anti-homeschooling experts were there who admitted they had done no research but still felt they were qualified to express their concerns about this alternative educational option. There was some balance offered as the program also interviewed a representative from the Home Educator’s Network in Victoria. (Listen to the recent RadioNational interview on homeschooling.)
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