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  • Explanation of terms

    Eligible education expenses



    This information may not apply to the current year. Check the content carefully to ensure it is applicable to your circumstances.

    End of attention

    The following are eligible education expenses if they relate directly to the education of the student for whom you are claiming the ETR:

    • laptops, home computers, repair and associated running costs
    • computer-related equipment, such as printers, USB flash drives, as well as disability aids to assist in the use of computer equipment for students with special needs, repair and associated running costs
    • home internet connection, including the cost of establishing and maintaining it
    • computer software - for example, word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software
    • school textbooks and other paper-based school learning material, including prescribed textbooks, associated learning materials, study guides and stationery
    • tools of trade, such as tools required to complete a school-based apprenticeship.

    The following are not eligible education expenses for the ETR:

    • school fees
    • school uniform expenses
    • student attendance at school excursions and camps
    • tutoring costs
    • sporting equipment
    • musical instruments
    • library book fees
    • building levies
    • school subject levies
    • school photos
    • donations
    • tuckshop expenses
    • waiting list fees
    • transport
    • membership fees
    • computer games and consoles.

    You cannot claim for an expense, or that part of an expense:

    • that is tax deductible
    • that is subject to another tax offset, or
    • for which you received or are entitled to receive a reimbursement or payment under an Australian Government benefit, grant or subsidy.

    FTB child

    A child will be your 'FTB child' when:

    • the following criteria are met, and
    • the child is not prevented from being your FTB child by the negative test.

    There may be other situations when a child will be your FTB child. If in doubt, contact the Family Assistance Office (FAO). See How to contact the FAO.

    Basic criteria

    The basic criteria are as follows:

    • The child must be in your care (see Negative test).
    • The child must be
      • an Australian resident
      • a special category visa holder residing in Australia, or
      • living with you and you must be an Australian resident or a special category visa holder.
    • The child, or someone on their behalf, must not receive any social security pension or benefit or Labour Market Program payment for the child.
    • The child must be under 25 years old.
    • The child either must not be your partner or, if the child is under 16 years old, the child would not be your partner even if they were over the age of consent in your state or territory.

    Contact the FAO about the following situations when a child might still be your FTB child:

    • The child is taken out of your care without your consent.
    • The child or you is not in Australia.
    • The child is under 18 years old and from another relationship of your partner.

    Age-based criteria

    The age-based criteria are as follows:

    If the child is under 18 years old, one of the following criteria must be met:

    • You are legally responsible (or jointly legally responsible with another person) for the day-to-day care, welfare and development of the child.
    • You are a person with whom the child is supposed to live or spend time under a family law order, registered parenting plan or parenting plan that is in force for the child.
    • The child is not in the care of anyone legally responsible for their day-to-day care, welfare and development.

    If the child is 5 years old or older and under 16 years old, and they are not studying full time or engaged in a course of primary education, their adjusted taxable income (ATI) must be less than $12,742.

    If the child is 16 years old or older and under 21 years old:

    • their ATI must be less than $12,742,
    • the child, or someone on their behalf, must not receive any payments under a prescribed educational scheme for the child, and
    • for the purposes of the education tax refund, the child must also from 1 January 2010:
      • have completed the final year of secondary school or an equivalent qualification, or
      • be undertaking full-time study in an approved course that, in the opinion of the FAO, will assist or allow the child to complete the final year of school or an equivalent qualification.

    If the child is 21 years old or older and under 25 years old:

    • the child must be undertaking full-time study
    • their ATI must be less than $12,742, and
    • the child, or someone on their behalf, must not receive any payments under a prescribed educational scheme for the child.

    For an explanation of ATI and its components, go to the Family assistance guide on the website of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

    Negative test

    If you satisfy the criteria above for a child on a day, that child is your FTB child on that day unless all of the following conditions apply on that day:

    • The child is also an FTB child of one or more other person with whom you share the care of the child.
    • You made a claim for FTB in respect of the child for all or part of the income year.
    • You are not the partner of someone in respect of whom the child is an FTB child.
    • The FAO has determined that you care for the child for less than 35% of the time.


    You incur an expense in the income year when:

    • you receive a bill or invoice for an expense that you are liable for and must pay (even if you don't pay it until after the end of the year), or
    • you do not receive a bill or invoice but you are charged and you pay for the expense.


    For the purpose of this question, your partner is a person of the same or opposite sex:

    • with whom you are legally married or in a de facto relationship
    • from whom you are not permanently separated, and
    • who is not blood-related, related by adoption or under the age of consent.

    Schooling requirement

    If the student was enrolled or registered in a primary or secondary school course (at school, home or TAFE) and attended that course, or received the home schooling, for at least one day:

    • between 1 July 2009 and 31 December 2009, then they met the schooling requirement for every day in that period
    • between 1 January 2010 and 30 June 2010, then they met the schooling requirement for every day in that period
    • in each of those two six-month periods, then they met the schooling requirement for the whole year.
    Last modified: 13 Feb 2019QC 27993