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LBS School Manager Donna Burnett receives 2017 Award for Excellence in School and Faculty Management!

By Donna Burnett

The ATEM Best Practice Awards for 2017 was held at the Arts Centre, with over 150 staff from Tertiary institutions throughout Aus and NZ.
Recognising professional management and administration in the Tertiary Education sector is fundamentally important not only to the staff recognised, but to the industry as a whole.

Whilst ATEM has worked extremely hard for 41 years to promote a culture where professional managers work to partner academics in the education enterprise, Universities in general still have a long way to go to achieve the same goal.

This award has sought to show that we are equal partners in the profession.

I have received an incredible amount of support from the Leadership team within the LBS and support from Managers within the College. This support has enabled me to grow and flourish in my role and has treated me as an equal partner in the operations of a large and multidisciplinary school.

Working together without hierarchical boundaries has enabled effective School Management, but has also broken down many barriers and allowed professional staff to have a voice in an Academic world.

 

A low ATAR doesn’t mean missing out on your dream course

If you’re reaching for the stars when it comes to finding your dream course, don’t let anything get in the way – not even an ATAR that’s lower than you’d hoped for. There are lots of options available to help get you into the course you want – you might just have to take a different road.

Each December, VCE students across the state wait anxiously to find out if all their hard work throughout high school has paid off. It doesn’t matter whether you log in online, get a text message or wait for snail mail, waiting for your ATAR results must rank as one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in a teen’s life.

And no wonder. Your ATAR is a culmination of incredibly hard work, determination and persistence. Some people are rewarded with a great result that propels them directly into their dream course at university. But for every person that gets into their desired course, there is another that has to step back, and reassess their planned career path.

Luke Scicluna works in the student recruitment team at La Trobe University, and while he recognises the benefits of getting a great ATAR score, he doesn’t see it as the be-all and end-all.

‘There’s a lot of pressure and expectation around the ATAR. I think there is merit to it when you’ve been at school for 13 years of your life, and you want to have a good send-off, but there are so many variables around ATAR. It’s totally understandable to not achieve the number you were expecting.’

While it can be incredibly deflating to miss out on the course you had set your hopes on, it’s important to have a plan B in place, well before you get your results.

What’s your plan B?

‘If you can’t get in the first instance there are other courses you can enrol in or subjects you can take which may lead you down the road toward your dream course,’ says Luke.

‘There are plenty of examples of students who might not have been able to enrol directly in the degree they were gunning for originally, but eventually find their way in.’

Changing preferences

After the VCE results and ATARs are released, you’ll have the opportunity to review your course preferences. Be sure to consider your folio presentations, feedback from interviews and any auditions, as well as your ATAR results when making changes.

You can change your preferences as many times as you like, up until the closing date. Find out all the important dates for 2017 and 2018 from the VTAC website.

What should you do if your ATAR is just a few points off your dream course? Luke suggests keeping the course as your number one preference. But if your ATAR is way off the mark, it’s time to shuffle those preferences and choose a different pathway course on your VTAC preference form instead.

It’s critical to do your research well before you submit your preferences. First of all, you need to make sure you meet all the prerequisites. Secondly, you need to check which course pathways offer the best chance to get you into the course you ultimately want.

If you need advice, talk to the experts. Luke refers to VTAC as the ‘source of truth’, and says it’s the place to get the most up-to-date information about all courses and requirements. If you need more, go to the university directly – La Trobe offers a range of different ways to connect and ask questions.

So don’t be shy. Make sure the next step is the right one for you and get an expert second opinion.

Pathway options

Pathways are like stepping-stones into your preferred course, and there’s lots of different options. The most common pathway is via a related course at your preferred university.

For example, if you missed out on a spot in physiotherapy, you can study a related course. If your marks are good – and there is a place available – you can apply to transfer across to physiotherapy in your second year of study. There are no guarantees, but these options mean the door isn’t completely closed if you don’t get in the first time.

Another popular pathway is to enrol at an alternative campus, then transfer. You’ll find that some of La Trobe’s regional campuses have equivalent courses with slightly lowered ATAR requirements.

That’s not a reflection of the quality of the course, explains Luke. ‘It just comes down to competitiveness and how many people want to get in.’ Transfers depend on your academic performance and places available in your desired course.

Even if you achieved an ATAR  that’s too low to enrol in an undergraduate degree, you have options. VET or TAFE pathways allow you to start your study in an officially recognised diploma, obtain the credit you need, and then transfer across to the course of your choice. TAFE and VET pathways also apply if you studied VCAL instead of VCE, or you don’t satisfy a prerequisite for a particular course.

‘If you achieve a good enough mark in that diploma, you may have credit officially recognised by the time you’re ready to study at La Trobe,’ explains Luke.

With so many pathway options, making your next move after receiving your ATAR can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to seek out as much advice as you can. While career teachers are a great resource within a school, Luke suggests future students should consider getting in touch with the university admissions team.

‘If you’re really interested in studying at La Trobe, organise a one-on-one consultation, because we have that up-to-date advice about which pathway would be best for the student.’

Book a one-on-one consultation to find out how you can get into your dream course.

This article was orginally published on NEST.

La Trobe Business School Professor shares SeniorPreneur insights on Studio 10 National TV

Professor of Entrepreneurship, Alex Maritz

Recently, La Trobe Business School’s Professor of Entrepreneurship, Alex Maritz, appeared on Channel 10’s morning show. He shared research outcomes from the recent nbn Silver Economy Report, where he collaborated on research and analysis on a national SeniorPreneur research project.

SeniorPreneurs emerge from retirement

The Silver Economy Report reveals that tech-savvy baby boomers are expected to contribute an additional $ 11.9billion to the Australian GDP in new ventures each year, Insights reveal that SeniorPreneurs are expected to start 14,000 new businesses each year; representing the fastest growing sector of entrepreneurship. 34% of all small businesses are lead by senior entrepreneurs. More than half (54%) of them claim they employ a predominantly online model in their businesses, with 61% of them preferring to upskill online. Be it motivation to create or supplement income (67%), pursue passion projects (58%) or keep mentally stimulated (55%), these tech-savvy boomers are undergoing a new renaissance.

The Silver Economy Report is available online, here.

The Studio 10 TV in-studio interview is available here (Professor Alex Maritz speaks at 1:48).

La Trobe Business School is at the cutting edge of innovation and technology when it comes to offering tech-savvy Entrepreneurship Education courses online. For more information, click here.

How our MBA graduates are giving back

By Kelly Griffin

An MBA can advance your career, increase your earning potential and strengthen your network with fellow business leaders.

The professional advantages of pursuing an MBA are widely reported, but what’s less highlighted is the remarkable way our MBA graduates are using their acquired knowledge and networks to give back to their communities.

Here’s how three MBA graduates are giving back.

bernie-squire

Bernie Squire

Bus Manager Wodonga Chamber of Commerce, MBA Grad 2016, Board Member AW Regional Cancer Centre Trust Fund

Why did you decide to study an MBA? 

I was made redundant from a senior management role in the finance industry and I was having difficulty finding another suitable role. After talking with a careers adviser I decided to do an MBA for a couple of reasons; to gain academic credibility and also a better chance of employment at the senior executive/director level. The La Trobe MBA really appealed to me because of the flexible delivery blend of ‘face to face’, ‘block intensive’, and ‘video conference’ unit delivery.

What was one of your greatest learnings or takeaways from your MBA? 

I really benefitted from the cohort network that you develop, including the in-class discussion and debate. I guess for me, however, the biggest takeaways were: a greater appreciation of diversity; the ability to research and reflect on critical issues; and, a heightened awareness of corporate responsibility and sustainability issues.

How did doing your MBA help you give back? 

As the manager of the local Chamber of Commerce, I’ve used my new sustainability knowledge to connect with organisations like ‘The Benefits Corporation’ and ‘Blabs Australia and New Zealand’.  We have run a number of Chamber events focussed around being a Conscious Business and increasing our local businesses awareness of their impact in a global economy.

Angela Kelly angela-kelly

Proposal Manager, Veolia Water. MBA Grad 2016

Why did you decide to study an MBA?

I’ve always really enjoyed learning and was looking for a way to expand my knowledge in a formal way. At the same time, I was looking to progress my career to a higher level.

While I felt that my engineering degree had given me a great technical base, I wanted to develop my business skills and improve my ability to work with others.

What was one of your greatest learnings or takeaways from your MBA?

My greatest learning of the MBA is the understanding that working with people who are different to me is not a problem but is actually a benefit.

Having a diverse team that is open to new ideas provides you with a competitive advantage in the market place. Part of this learning is that constructive conflict can actually be beneficial as it is a sign that people are engaged in their work and that they care about the outcomes.

How did doing your MBA help you give back?

The things I learned during the MBA provided me with the courage to provide support and guidance to less experienced colleagues to improve their outcomes. The MBA also raised my awareness of how important equality is for our community.  Women’s education is the best way to improve the lifestyles of communities and their future generations.

Knowing that in Australia the Indigenous community is the most disadvantaged, I used my MBA skills to organise a fundraiser to raise over $3,000 for Indigenous literacy.

Hodi Beauliv low resHodi Beauliv

Executive Management Business Development Sunraysia Community Health, MBA Grad 2015, on Board of Mallee Track Health and Community Services

Why did you decide to study an MBA?

It’d been over 15 years since I’d completed my first degree at La Trobe, so I knew I needed to do something to bring my skills up to date.

I spoke to a staff member at the La Trobe Bendigo Open Day about my passion for social justice and my management aspirations. She recommended La Trobe’s MBA given its focus on sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility.

The ability to complete some semester long units by teleconference in Bendigo, but also the opportunity to meet face-to-face with people from all over the State when completing block units, really appealed to me.

How did doing your MBA help you give back?

After completing my MBA I was exhausted, but passionate to do something to give back to the community.

I am now an Executive Manager in a rural Community Health Service in Mildura. In this role I help drive change to develop services that meet the needs of our local community. I am able to raise new and innovative ideas of how this can be done, with a focus on sustainability of the service, not just short term outcomes, by bringing a corporate social responsibility management focus to my work.

On a personal level, I have also joined the Mallee Track Health & Community Services Board.  Mallee Track covers a large number of small rural communities. By participating on the Board I am able to contribute to the sustainability of the organisation, by ensuring appropriate governance practices are in place for the successful long-term operation of the Health Service.

La Trobe University’s founding Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Myers, once said: ‘The true measure of a university’s greatness is the total effect it has on human welfare and progress’.

We’re extremely proud that our MBA graduates have been able to succeed in their chosen profession while also using their acquired skills to help out others and strengthen their community.

Find out more about studying an MBA or book a one-to-one consultation to discuss your study options.

This article was originally published on The Knowledge Blog.

Regional brain drain worsens

An Australian-first study has revealed regional students across every state and territory are turning to metropolitan universities at an unprecedented rate.

The new study, funded by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) at Curtin University, and led by La Trobe University researchers, LBS’s Dr Buly Cardak and Matt Brett and Dr Mark Bowden of Swinburne University, shows the number of regional students across Australia moving to a city location to study increased by more than 76% between 2008 and 2014.

“We found the growth in regional students relocating to metropolitan universities far outstrips growth of regional students taking up higher education places in either their home town or another regional location. However, regional students studying in regional locations are still a majority, and are attracted to a small number of larger regional centres,” La Trobe Business School’s Associate Professor Buly Cardak said.

“This growth was particularly strong with more flexible modes of study. We found mature aged students, students with disabilities, or those wanting to study part-time are increasingly turning to city campuses.”

The researchers used enrollment data drawn from the Department of Education and Training from 2008-2014 which uniquely classifies students as regional based on their residential location when they started university.

“Previous information only accounted for students’ current home addresses. Using this new information we can see that the number of regional students enrolling in university has grown by almost 39% over this period.”

“This is in stark comparison to the conventional wisdom based on existing data, which shows the growth rate in regional student numbers is slightly lower than the rate of growth in metropolitan student numbers”

The report also indicated that regional students likely to face financial constraints are no less likely to attend university, and are instead displaying a greater likelihood of graduation.

“Our findings turn a lot of commonly held perceptions about regional students on their head, and is likely to have significant implications for the sector.”

“For example, how might the Government prioritise funding allocations, now that we know an increasing number of regional students are instead choosing metropolitan campuses? Do they invest more in the city, providing infrastructure and support for migrating students or do they increase incentives for students to stay in or return to regional locations where skilled graduates are in short supply?”

NCSEHE Director Professor Sue Trinidad said the report offers a new perspective on regional participation and paves the way for future discussion and policy advancements.

“The findings of this report are positive. It provides an evidence base for what is really happening with regional students accessing higher education. The issue now is the challenge of attracting graduates back to our regional areas, and the associated policy implications,” Professor Trinidad said.

The report, Regional student Participation and Migration, is available from the NCSEHE website.

Editor’s note:

The NCSEHE aims to inform public policy design and implementation and institutional practice to improve the higher education participation and success for marginalised and disadvantaged people.

La Trobe University is Victoria’s third oldest University. Established in 1971 it is now firmly entrenched in the world’s top 400 universities. It currently has more than 36,000 students and is the largest provider of higher education in regional Victoria.

 

Donna Burnett officially appointed as ATEM Fellow

Donna Burnett

La Trobe Business School would like to warmly congratulate LBS School Manager Ms Donna Burnett, who was recently officially appointed as a fellow by the Association of Tertiary Education Management.

The Fellow status is awarded to members who have been working in tertiary education administration and management for at least eight years, and have held a senior role demonstrating strategic management and leadership for a minimum of two years. Leadership and service to the tertiary education community over at least five years must also be demonstrated.

“I am passionate about Professional Development opportunities for staff, Ms Donna Burnett said, “I also subscribe to ATEM’s mantra stating that tertiary administrators and managers are people who make a vital contribution to the central aims of their institutions.”

The award of ATEM Fellow recognises members who have pursued their professional development and helped to improve professional practice. The award of Fellow represents the culmination of a sustained period of commitment to the profession and reflects the superior level of achievement in both professional practice and professional development of the member.

Currently, Ms Donna Burnett is the only La Trobe University Staff Member to have to the ATEM Fellow status. “I am truly honoured to have Fellow status in an association that promotes and believes in the worth and value of the profession of tertiary administration and management,” she said.

Developing Future Public Sector Leaders – International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

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August 9th is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, a day to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous populations. Last June, examples from schools across Australia, Canada and New Zealand and the work that they are doing to engage Indigenous students and promote Indigenous businesses were featured on the Prime Time Blog, including an Aboriginal EMBA at Beedie School of Business, a programme to support Indigenous Entrepreneurs at Gustavson School of Business, the Indigenous Programmes Unit at University of New South Wales, contextualizing the MBA with an Indigenous focus at the University of Waikato, promoting accounting as a career choice with Indigenous students at Deaken University and mentoring a new generation of Indigenous leaders at University of Wollongong. The Primetime blog is connected to the Principles of Responsible Management and Education and aims to share best practices on how to mainstream sustainability and responsible leadership into management education globally. The blog serves as a platform to share and discuss inspirational activities that promote the development of responsible leaders.

Recently, they featured La Trobe Business School’s innovative programme focused on developing future Indigenous business leaders in the Public sector. Gisselle Weybrecht spoke with Dr Suzanne Young Head of Department of Management and Marketing and Dr Geraldine Kennett, Professor of Practice, Department of Management & Marketing about their new programme.

 What is the programme for public servants?

La Trobe Business School developed a new Graduate Certificate in Management (Public Sector) in partnership with the Institute of Public Administration of Australia (IPAA), and in consultation with the IPAA Indigenous Advisory Committee. Initially enrolling 32 Indigenous public servants, the course has now expanded to be a combination of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous public sector professionals learning together. The course takes 1.5 years full-time or 2 years part time.

This innovative course uses a partnership approach; the participants study leadership, entrepreneurial business planning, financial management and accounting with the University and public policy making with the Institute of Public Administration of Australia.  The students develop a plan for an entrepreneurial business or policy idea in their first subject and then build on this plan in subsequent subjects, cumulating in ‘A Pitch’ to senior public sector leaders.  This practical form of assessment builds their confidence to get strategic buy-in for their business and/or policy ideas. Many of the students have used their new learning and skills to achieve higher level positions in the public sector. Four students are also continuing their studies with the La Trobe University MBA programme in 2016.

As academics we have gained knowledge about Indigenous culture and how to integrate social identity into learning styles which has enabled us to develop supportive pedagogy for teaching.  Our course ensures that the learning outcomes support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the capacity to straddle their leadership obligations in the workplace as well as in the Indigenous community.

 How did it come about?

In 2010 the Australian government highlighted the social, political and economic gap between Indigenous Australians and the rest of the community. The Review of Higher Education Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (2012) argues that improving higher education outcomes among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will contribute to nation building and reduce Indigenous disadvantage.

The need for a postgraduate qualification for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Public Servants was highlighted as important in a study IPAA Victoria commissioned with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The study highlighted the barriers to, and enablers of, career advancement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders employed in the public sector including the need for professional development opportunities. Indigenous public servants experience a higher turnover rate than their non-indigenous peers. The 2012-13 Australian Public Service State of the Sector report found that 20.5% of indigenous employees left the APS after less than one year  — almost four times the rate of non-indigenous employees (5.9%). This is another part the challenge this programme aims to tackle.

IPAA approached La Trobe Business School to develop and conduct a post graduate course due to its expertise in providing higher education for Aboriginal people, its status as the United Nations Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) Champion Business school in Australia and the ability for regional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Public Servants to continue their higher education at La Trobe University’s regional campuses across our region.

 What have been some of the successes?

From the feedback loop it is clear that the project produces measurable impact for Indigenous peoples (including students and community), La Trobe University (including staff), IPAA, and the higher education sector.

Achievements to date include:

  • Initial enrolment of 32 students into the course
  • Strong retention rate with 22 students continuing into their 3rd subject
  • Employers contributing to student fees
  • Orientation programme and guidelines for delivery of Indigenous education
  • Second cohort of programme began in late 2015 consisting of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous students
  • Students’ management skills enhanced in entrepreneurship and innovation, accounting and leadership
  • Students’ leadership skills enhanced in communication and team work
  • Peer and collaborative learning enhancing cross cultural learning between students and staff and in the future between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous students.
  • Four students progressing through to enrolment in the MBA

 

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students it provides an educational experience and improved educational outcomes and opportunities for employment and career advancement. A specific Indigenous course enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to bring their culture and identity into the learning experience, thereby making the teaching relevant for their needs. Also for Indigenous communities, it supports economic development, assists in closing the gap and provides mechanisms for breaking the cycle of Indigenous disadvantage.

Do you have any advice for schools thinking of doing something similar?

It is important to develop and work in partnerships with those organisations and people in the community who are legitimately recognised with expertise by Indigenous peoples. It is also important to have orientation programs for teaching staff in Indigenous culture and nurturing this in the teaching environment. Flexibility of approach, and assessments that are meaningful and authentic to the Indigenous students are also important.

What are the next Steps for La Trobe Business School in this area?

The course is now open for non-indigenous students as well to provide a culturally safe learning environment for students to be able to learn together. This enhances the learning of non-indigenous students who are all practising public servant professionals and so builds their knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the importance of culturally safe practices.  This also provides an environment where cross cultural knowledge is exchanged and others’ perspectives are more fully understood.

 

This article was originally published, here.

 

 

 

 

Is it Student Refund Time?

Mark Morris La Trobe Business School Professor of Practice

By Mark Morris [1]

For many students there are probably few more off-putting or intimidating chores than the prospect of preparing and lodging an income tax return with the Australian Taxation Office (the ATO).

However, where the income tax deducted from a student’s part-time job exceeds the total income tax payable for the tax year the only way in which a student can generally obtain a refund of the overpaid income tax is by lodging an income tax return.

Of course other students will be legally required to lodge a return and pay tax where insufficient income tax been retained from their salary, or where they derive other categories of assessable income in respect of which they have not paid enough income tax.

So how do students navigate their way around the complex and seemingly impenetrable world of Australian tax?

Well here are a few tips to guide you on your way in working out whether you need to lodge an Australian income tax return for the year ended 30 June 2016, and how to prepare a return should you need to file one with the ATO.

  1.  Are you an Australian tax resident?

The first step is to work out if you are an Australian resident for Australian income tax purposes.

If you were born in Australia and continue to live here, you will be regarded as an Australian resident for income tax purposes as this is the country in which you reside.

However, it is important for international students to recognise that being a resident for Australian tax purposes is quite different to being a permanent resident for Australian immigration purposes, and that they may sometimes unknowingly be an Australian tax resident.

Very broadly, an international student may be regarded as residing in Australia if they are here for such a period of time that their behavior reflects a degree of continuity, routine or habit that is consistent with residing in Australia.

Whilst it is a question of fact in each case as a broad rule of thumb the ATO takes the view that living in Australia for six months is a period of time which is generally consistent with a person residing here for tax purposes.

For example, in one of the ATO’s binding public taxation rulings it held that an overseas student who came to Australia to attend a pre-arranged 4-year university course was an Australian resident even though he left after 6 months to return to his home country following a family illness as his living and working arrangements whilst in Australia were consistent with someone whose pattern of behavior was that they resided in Australia[2].

Accordingly, if you are unsure whether you are an Australian resident for income tax purposes you should contact the ATO or a registered tax agent to obtain more clarity as to whether or not you are an Australian resident in working out your tax rights and obligations.

  1. What happens if you are an Australian tax resident?

Assuming you are regarded as an Australian resident for tax purposes what are some of the key tax implications you need to consider.

On the plus side you will be entitled to a tax free threshold which will mean that you do not pay any income tax for the year ended 30 June 2016 if your total taxable income was $18,200 or less.

Accordingly, if you worked part time and derived salary income from which income tax was deducted by your employer you will be able to obtain a tax refund of any Pay As You Go (PAYG) tax retained from your salary income if your total taxable income was $18,200 or less.

In practice, most individual resident taxpayers will also usually be entitled to a tax credit being the low income tax offset which means that no tax will typically be payable if that person’s taxable income is below $20,542. However, the amount of this this tax offset reduces tax payable but is not in itself refundable.

On the negative side you will be subject to tax on all your assessable income for the year ended 30 June 2016 regardless of where it was sourced. For example, an overseas student would need to include both their Australian salary income and any interest income earned in a bank account held in their home country.

In addition, Australian residents are subject to a 2% Medicare levy but only where their taxable income exceeds certain thresholds.

By contrast a non-resident is only taxable on assessable income which has an Australian source being generally locally derived investment income. However, such income will be subject to tax at a rate of 32.5% for any taxable income derived up to $80,000 as there is no tax-free threshold for non-resident individuals.

  1. What do I need if I want to lodge a return for the 2016 year?

Most students who have been employed would have already been issued a tax file number which is a prerequisite for every individual lodging an income tax return.

If for some reason you are lodging a return but do not have a tax file number you will need to apply for one from the ATO either directly or by using a registered tax agent.

You should then collate all the records and information you will need to prepare you income tax return including, amongst others, any payment summary, bank interest statements, dividend slips, invoices and receipts.

Assuming you have a tax file number you may consider preparing and lodging your income tax return on-line using the ATO’s myTax product if your tax affairs are reasonably simple. Further details on myTax can be found, here.

Otherwise it may be prudent to contact a registered tax agent to ensure you identify all your entitlements and to ensure that your income tax return is correctly prepared.

Regardless of how you lodge your return you will need to disclose full bank account details when preparing your income tax return if you expect to receive a tax refund.

  1. What types of income need to be included in your return?

As discussed, as an Australian resident you will be taxed on all of your assessable income wherever it is derived.

Some of the more common types of assessable income include the following:

  • Salary and wages (whether as a full-time, part-time or casual employee);
  • Allowances and bonuses (where received during the 2016 income year);
  • Tips and gratuities (such as those received working in hospitality jobs);
  • Fees received is an independent contractor under a contract for service;
  • Any business income derived during the year (not being income derived from carrying on a hobby);
  • Australian government payments and allowances including, amongst others, Newstart allowance, youth allowance, AuStudy payments and certain other educational and training allowances;
  • Interest income;
  • Dividend income (including the amount of any franking credit tax offset for any franking credit attached to a dividend paid by an Australian resident company);
  • Any distributions received as a beneficiary from a family trust or as a partner in a partnership; and
  • Capital gains arising from the disposal of certain CGT assets (which is a highly complex area requiring specialist expertise).

The total of such assessable income may be reduced by eligible deductions which may take the form of work-related deductions, self-education expenses in certain circumstances and personal deductions.

  1. What type of work-related deductions can you claim?

You may be entitled to claim a deduction for expenses directly incurred in the course of gaining or producing your assessable income. However, you will not be able to claim an outright deduction which is capital in nature although you may be able depreciate certain capital assets like a computer over time for tax purposes. In addition, you will not be entitled to claim a deduction for expenditure which is private in nature such as the cost of conventional clothing (e.g. suits) purchased for work purposes.

Some of the more common types of deductions you may be able to claim are as follows:

  • Work-related subscription and union fees;
  • Protective clothing and certain work uniforms (including compulsory work uniforms required by your employer);
  • Home office expenses (where you are required to work at home after hours and have a separate room allocated in your home study for that purpose);
  • Employment related telephone mobile and internet costs; and
  • Travel expenses between worksites (but excluding travel between home and work)).

You may also be entitled to claim a deduction for the cost of tools of trade, briefcases and calculators costing less than $300 to the extent to which you use it for work-related purposes.

However, you will only generally be able to claim any work related expenses costing $300 or more if you have retained all the relevant invoices and receipts.

  1. When are self-education costs allowable?

Broadly, self-education expenses are only deductible to the extent that the course of study undertaken will either maintain or improve your skills in your current occupation.

Accordingly, you will not be entitled to claim the costs of your course if you’ve not yet embarked on a particular career. Nor will you be able to claim such costs if you have decided to change careers and have incurred such expenses in studying a new area of expertise.

However, you will be able to claim a deduction for self-education expenses where the study or training you are undertaking is likely to enhance your chances of promotion or increase your income earning capacity in your existing occupation.

Further details as to when self-education expenses are allowable or not are set out in Taxation Ruling TR98/9 which can be downloaded, here.

Eligible self-education costs include, amongst others, course fees, textbooks, stationary, travel costs and the depreciation of items such as laptops, tablets and printers. However, it is necessary to add back $250 of any self-education expenses as being non-allowable.

Finally, any Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) repayments are non-deductible.

  1. What other personal deductions may be allowable?

Donations of $2 dollars or more to a deductible gift recipient (e.g. a charity like the Red Cross) will be allowable provided you have kept copies of receipts for any gifts made.

You can also claim a deduction for any fee paid to a registered tax agent during the year ended 30 June 2016 for the cost of managing your tax affairs. However, any amount paid to a registered tax agent to assist you in in preparing your 2016 income tax return will only be deductible in the year ended 30 June 2017.

  1. What tax offsets can you claim?

Whilst tax deductions may reduce assessable income tax offsets are directly applied as a credit to reduce tax payable.

Certain tax offsets may also result in a refund to the extent that the tax credit exceeds tax payable.

The most common tax offsets that a student may claim include the beneficiary tax offset, the franking credit tax offset and the small business tax offset.

A beneficiary tax offset may be available where a student receives a newstart allowance, youth allowance, Austudy payments and certain other Commonwealth education or training programs.

The calculation of this offset can be complex but this offset may not only reduce tax payable on the amount of Government benefits received but also assessable income received from other sources.

Further details on the beneficiary tax offset can be found, here.

A resident company may pass on a tax credit for tax it has paid to shareholders when it pays such shareholders a franked dividend. Such a tax credit can be claimed as a franking credit tax offset which may also result in a tax refund where the franking credit exceeds tax payable.

Finally, where a student is also carrying on a business that individual may be entitled to the small business income tax offset for the year ended 30 June 2016 being 5% of the income tax payable on the portion of an individual’s taxable income that is ‘total net small business income’. An individual is only able to claim one small business tax offset for an income year irrespective of the number of sources of small business income derived by that individual and the maximum amount of the offset is capped to $1,000 per year. The application of this offset is also quite complex and specialist advice should be sought if you intend to claim it.

  1. What are some of the potential traps to watch out for?

There are special rules to discourage adults from splitting income with their children (i.e. minors) aged under 18 at the end of the year unless that minor is engaged in a full-time occupation, receives a carer allowance, disability support pension or double orphan pension or a person who is disabled or a beneficiary under a special disability trust.

Where the minor is subject to these special rules, penalty tax rates apply to such children receiving dividends, interest, rent, royalties or a family trust distribution.

Where such income is between $417 and $1,307 tax will be paid on the excess of income over $416 at a rate of 68% whilst any amount of such income in excess of $1,307 will be subject to tax at a rate of 47%.

  1. Where do I go for help?

If you believe that you required to lodge an income tax return or that you may wish to lodge a return in order to obtain your tax refund, you may wish to either contact the ATO or look at their website for more details on the ATO’s website.

Should you want to get independent tax advice then try to locate an accountant who has the tax expertise to makes sure you lodge a correct income tax return but make sure that the accountant is also a registered tax agent who has been legally authorised to provide such services.

And if you are entitled to a tax refund go get it!

[1] La Trobe University has used reasonable care and skill in compiling the content of this general commentary. However, it should not be relied upon as advice in any circumstances, and no warranty is provided by either the University or the author concerning the accuracy and completeness of these materials. Accordingly, they disclaim all and any liability to any person in respect of reliance on any of the matters raised in these materials, and professional advice should be sought from an appropriately qualified registered tax agent where required.             

 [2] Refer to Example 8 of Taxation Ruling TR98/17.

LBS Associate Professor Buly Cardak receives prestigious NCSEHE research grant

Buly Cardak La Trobe Business School
LBS Associate Professor Buly Cardak has been awarded a research grant by the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. The NCSEHE grant funding of $39,000 is for the project “Factors influencing participation and migration of regional higher education students”, and is a collaboration with Mr Matt Brett, Senior Manager – Higher Education Policy at La Trobe University and Dr Mark Bowden, Senior Lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology.

The National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education

The NCSEHE’s purpose is to inform public policy design and implementation, and institutional practice, in order to improve higher education participation and success for marginalised and disadvantaged people. The centre strives to close the gap between Equity Policy, Research & Practice.

Project Abstract

Students of regional origin in Australia continue to experience inferior educational outcomes to the rest of the population and are under-represented in higher education. Associate Professor Buly Cardak’s project (in collaboration with Mr Matt Brett and Dr Mark Bowden) will improve our understanding of the factors affecting regional student university participation and completion. The project will focus on two issues, repeatedly raised as key factors driving the decisions of regional students: (i) higher education costs; and (ii) the need relocate to pursue some programs of study. The project will be data driven and will draw on the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth and higher education administrative data collection in order to undertake the analysis.

Is university right for everyone?

Buly Cardak La Trobe Business School

Should young people aim for university graduation, or is it better to focus on other things in life? LBS Associate Professor Buly Cardak was featured on Radio National in a series of interviews to talk about how the disparity between well off students and disadvantaged students is reflected in graduation rates.

To listen to the latest interview, please refer to the ABC Radio National website.

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