Business groups campaign against cap on self-education tax deductions

By Naomi Woodley

ABC News 8th July 2013

The Government is facing a revolt from scores of professional bodies over moves to clamp down on tax breaks for education expenses.

The budget measure will put a $2,000 cap on self-education claims from next July, and is due to save $500 million once it is in place.

But a diverse range of professional groups say the changes will mean many employees cannot afford to meet strict training requirements, and that in turn will damage productivity.

They are meeting in Canberra today to try to convince new Treasurer Chris Bowen to make some changes.

Lee Thomas from the Australian Nursing Federation will be among those at the meeting.

“I think the current position of $2,000 a year is a disgrace,” she said.

“Nurses and midwives, like many other professions, are required to complete, every year, mandatory continuous professional development. None of that comes cheaply.”

Ms Thomas says the cost of training for a regional nurse or midwife can be up to $10,000, and patients will suffer if they cannot claim a deduction.

Engineers, teachers, doctors also affected

The impact on professional development also worries Brent Jackson from Engineers Australia.

“For engineers, it’s 150 hours over every three-year period,” he said.

“A lot of this of course the government has said is funded by employers.

“However, we are seeing increasingly in the current economic environment that employers are less and less likely to fund this.”

The meeting’s host, Belinda Robinson from Universities Australia, says the proposed cap is counter-productive.

“We want to encourage higher quality teachers; we want to ensure that our rural doctors have the breadth of experience that they need to meet the needs of their local communities,” she said.

“We’re encouraging the development of very highly skilled IT professionals, technology professionals, engineers, and so on to meet the demands of what we hope will be a much more advanced and diversified economy in the future.

“And this is a measure that’s really going to make that a lot more difficult.”

Ms Robinson says in 2010/11, 172,000 people claimed more than $2,000 in self-education expenses.

She says an estimated 60 per cent of those were students, usually studying post-graduate degrees.

“Many of the courses charged considerably more than $2,000, and so clearly, this will act as a very significant disincentive to those people,” she said.

Government says consultation process underway

The Government has issued a discussion paper and says it will consult closely to make sure essential training is not affected.

Steve Burrell from the Australian Institute of Company Directors says they all agree the scheme can be better targeted, but the cap goes too far.

“If the Government is concerned that there are people claiming first-class travel or luxury resorts or whatever the problems may be, there are better ways of doing this, much more targeted ways of doing it, than simply denying deductibility for everyone,” he said.

He is hopeful Mr Bowen will take a second look at the changes.

“I think he has indicated – and the Prime Minister has indicated – that they want to talk to business and they want to talk to business about serious things like productivity, and this is one of the issues that is integral to that,” he said.

A spokesman for the Treasurer says the proposed changes are “sensible”‘ and reflect an appropriate level of claimable expenses.

He says the Government is encouraging everyone to make a submission to the discussion paper by the end of this week.

Refer to ABC News online article here.

Information on our PCO petition to the Treasurer here.

Related articles

PCO Conference 2013 – Melbourne Australia

KeepingMeetingTThe 2013 conference will look at some of the “big picture” issues that are likely to impact the MICE sector in the next five years.

From Dr Frank Gelber, Chief Economist at Biz Shrapnel to Prof David Weaver and the “Lifecycle of destinations”, we will examine Aviation, Venues, Global Meeting Trends and the continuing impacts of Technology. We will also address new age marketing and the development of online business communities.

The bread and butter issues have not been forgotten and will include a lengthy session on PCO business models.

The provisional program has been published on the conference web, it has been designed to be inclusive and encourage discussion.

The owner/directors SIG will be held before the conference and will be facilitated by Richard Woodwood.  Richard’s brief is to establish 6 issues of importance the Association can address in 2014.  The short list will be prepared following consultation with members and presented to SIG attendees for discussion and evaluation.

Remember “Change is not a threat, it’s an opportunity. Survival is not the goal, transformative success is.”   Seth Godin

Alan Trotter to receive Lifetime Achievement Award from the PCO Association

Alan TrotterAlan Trotter,  CEO of Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) to receive Life Membership and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Professional Conference Organisers Association for his significant contribution to the MICE Sector.

Alan has been the CEO of CINZ for 20 years.  During this time the membership has grown from 20 to 320.  Under Alan’s tenure, CINZ has established a sales and marketing office in Sydney which is responsible for the marketing of New Zealand in the Australian market for business tourism.  Australia currently contributes 60% of all international arrivals into New Zealand, and is therefore, a critical “engine room” market.

Alan also inaugurated the MEETINGS Exhibition held each year in June which is now recognised as the best business event tradeshow in Australasia and continues to grow exhibitor and hosted buyer numbers.

He was also responsible for introducing the Conference Assistance Programme (CAP) into New Zealand.  CINZ ran the CAP programme for 5 years with great success, before handing it over to Tourism New Zealand.

A passionate advocate for the Business Events Sector, it was Alan’s  vision to facilitate the union between PCO’s in New Zealand and Australia with an alliance between the CINZ PCO group and the Professional Conference Organisers Association.

Alan will be stepping down as CEO of CINZ at the end of the year.

Sarah Siebert, chair of the New Zealand PCO group and Professional Conference Organisers Association Councillor will make the presentation to Alan in Auckland next month.