The Daily Examiner Letter to the Editor on 11 May 2012 alerted regular readers to a problem in the veracity of its reporting:
Too much info is barely enough
IT WOULD appear that too much information is never enough for some in regards to the Education Tax Refund (or the new Schoolkids Bonus).
It has been reported (DE 8/5/12) that some families will be worse off under the new scheme, however, this is difficult to reconcile with the information provided regarding both the old and new scheme. Under the old scheme, parents were able to claim 50% of eligible expenses, irrespective of how much they spent during the year. For a primary school student, this meant that in 2011/12 under the ETR a parent could claim a maximum of $409 in rebate, which would mean they had incurred $818 or more in eligible expenses. If Ms. Franklin-Hentscher intended to claim 50% of her $2100 in expenses, for a single primary school-aged child, she would still only have received $409, which is the maximum allowable refund. She also suggests that tuition fees are claimable, which according to the ATO website is also incorrect.
Under the new scheme, Ms. Franklin-Hentscher will be eligible for $410 in rebates, and will not have to produce a single tax receipt to do so. Unless there is more information regarding this individual situation that has not been reported, to suggest that this change is "a kick in the teeth" is quite bewildering.
Editor's note: We acknowledge an error in reporting of this story and issued a correction in our online version. Mr Clark is correct and the error was based on an assumption during an interview that was not checked properly, needless to say the reporter in question was a little embarrassed.
The Daily Examiner 8 May 2012 article in question:
Not all parents better off with Schoolkids Bonus
SOME families will be worse off under the Government's proposed Schoolkids Bonus which promises an annual payment of $410 (for primary students) and $820 (for high school kids).
Those who spend more than $820 on their primary school child's education or more than $1640 on their high school child would be better off under the existing Education Tax Refund which gives parents 50% of costs back through the tax system.
Maclean mother Nicole Franklin-Hentscher, who worked out yesterday she claimed half of the $2100 she spent on claimable education items this year, described the policy change as a kick in the teeth and "the last nail in Julia Gillard's coffin".
Nicole's daughter Indiana attends St James Primary School, Yamba, and while her school fees were not claimable, tuition fees, uniforms, books, internet and other resources were.
"Julia Gillard has lied to us and given us a mining tax that wasn't meant to be there and a carbon tax that wasn't meant to be there, why not kick us a little more," she said.
She said parents who could prove they were spending the money on education were being penalised and this new handout method removed that incentive.
Others, including South Grafton mum Amy Morgan, welcomed the news.
"This seems to be great considering how much cost goes into uniforms each year and by doing it twice a year helps parents with summer and winter uniforms," she said.
Ms Gillard said the ETR had not been working as families were forgetting to keep receipts or could not find the cash to buy necessary equipment in the first place.
About 1.3m families will benefit from the bonus which will be introduced in parliament next week.
Sources in Canberra said the Schoolkids Bonus would be paid for out of the 2011/12 budget alongside the ETR.
The online ‘corrected version as of 5.06 pm 11 May 2012 differed only in the headline,
Bonus doesn't benefit everybody (which continued the published untruth), and rider at its end:
Terry Deefholts has taken responsibility for an error in reporting above. The Education Tax Refund can be claimed for 50% of specific education costs and is capped to a maximum of $794 for primary kids and $1588 for high school kids. The article above suggests that larger amounts be claimed therefore parents would be worse off under the new Schoolkids Bonus - this is incorrect. The Examiner apologises oversight.
Further information: http://www.educationtaxrefund.gov.au
Unfortunately both the letter, www.educationtaxrefound.gov.au and the 2012-13 Budget Papers clearly demonstrate that the online ‘correction’ itself is misleading in that there is still an implication that large amounts had been claimable in the past - without pointing out that the cited $794 (primary) and $1,588 (high school) caps only ever resulted in tax refunds of $397 and $794 respectively in 2010-11.
Because the federal government website states; The Education Tax Refund provides up to 50% back on a range of children's education expenses.
While Budget Paper No. 2 states; From January 2013, every family with a child at school will be guaranteed $410 per annum for each primary school student and $820 per annum for each secondary school student. All eligible families will receive the full rate of payment and will no longer need to keep receipts as proof of expense, or wait until tax time. Eligibility for the payment will remain open to families with children enrolled and attending school who are in receipt of Family Tax Benefit Part A (FTB A) or other qualifying income support payments or allowances under a prescribed educational scheme that precludes the family from receiving FTB A. [my red bolding throughout]
What is clear is that the entire premise of both these articles in The Daily Examiner is incorrect and should never have been written and then published under those headlines. Both types of rebate rise and are to be paid at the maximum rate for each child attending school.
What makes the situation worse is that an opinion piece in the newspaper's 11 May issue appeared to assert that although the journalist could be trusted to spend the Schoolkids Bonus wisely, others might spend some of it on "booze, pokies, plasma TVs, remote control cars - anything but education" and that this bonus was "not healthy". Effectively dumping on at least a million families across the country. One could almost believe that APN's Grafton masthead belonged to the Murdoch media stable.
In all fairness, the erroneous premise of the original story should have been questioned from the start by the newspaper's editor and the blame lies squarely in that quarter when it comes to allowing publication.
As for Ms. Nicole Franklin-Hentscher who so unreasonably feels cheated by the Gillard Government - there are no words to describe the level of silliness being displayed.
Unfortunately bungled reporting has a life of its own and the Internet now owns this misinformation in all its glory.