Living the student lifestyle is expensive, money is always tight and there are course fees, supplies and beer to pay for. A part time job can help but they are often low paid and after tax what little is left disappears in a single night out.

But what does the end of the financial year have to do with being a student right? Well it can mean a mid-year cash boost when you need it most. By completing a tax return you may be able to claim back the tax you paid through employment, course fees and other essential student supplies – not beer though sorry, take it up with Penny Wong.


First of all do you actually need to lodge a tax return for the 2011-2012 financial year?

You may not need to but to find out first identify all sources of taxable income you have received during the 2011-2012 financial year.

Sources could include:

•    Earned income from a job: including any tips (if you were good).
•    Income from investments, such as bank interest or dividends on shares received

•    Some government payments from Centrelink, such as Austudy, ABSTUDY and youth allowance count as taxable income.
•   In some cases non-government scholarships, grants and awards are included.
•   Distribution from a family trust or partnership.

If your total taxable income exceeds the government determined tax-free threshold of $6000 for the period of 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2012 you will most likely need to lodge a tax return. If your income is less that $6000 you should also consider lodging a tax return in case you are due a refund from the ATO (woohoo!)


1. What expenses can you claim for?

An expense incurred in direct relation to the taxable income you have earned may be tax deductable in section D4 of the 2012 tax return. Keeping receipts and bank statements will help you to claim for these. Examples of expenses which may be eligible as a tax deduction include: uniforms, personal protective clothing, union fees, or the use of a mobile phone or vehicle for work related purposes. Study related expenses are not included in this section of the tax return but you can claim them in section D5.


2. What about government training courses?

If you receive an assessable government training payment, you can claim a tax offset which means you are exempt from paying tax on the money you received.

Austudy, ABSTUDY, Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance are all eligible for the offset.


3. Study related expenses

Although you can’t outright claim for expenses incurred through study, if you can show that the study you are undertaking is directly linked to your current occupation skill set and could help to maintain or improve your skills or income you may be able to claim for some of the following.
•    course fees
•    textbooks
•    stationery
•    the depreciation of assets such as computers and printers

•    student union fees

*If you’re studying your first university course you will not be eligible for self-education expenses unless it is related to your employment – the government make the laws not us!


4.    Are student loan repayments tax deductable? 

Sadly no. HELP (Higher Education Loan Program) repayments start once your annual salary exceeds $47,196. The amount repaid is income assessed.
Completing a tax file declaration form will allow the ATO to automatically calculate your repayments, if you don’t you could land a massive bill from the ATO.


5. What if you’re an overseas student?

An overseas student who is studying in Australia for six months or more will be classed as a resident for tax purposes and pay the same tax as Australian residents. The tax-free threshold only applies to students who have been an Australian resident for the full financial year.
Changes for the financial year 2012-2013 mean that the tax-free threshold rises to $18,200 which should benefit students on low part time incomes hurray!


If you feel like doing some study see the student section on the ATO site.