ATO Interpretative Decision

ATO ID 2001/381

Income Tax

Payments received under a homestay arrangement
FOI status: may be released

CAUTION: This is an edited and summarised record of a Tax Office decision. This record is not published as a form of advice. It is being made available for your inspection to meet FOI requirements, because it may be used by an officer in making another decision.

This ATOID provides you with the following level of protection:

If you reasonably apply this decision in good faith to your own circumstances (which are not materially different from those described in the decision), and the decision is later found to be incorrect you will not be liable to pay any penalty or interest. However, you will be required to pay any underpaid tax (or repay any over-claimed credit, grant or benefit), provided the time limits under the law allow it. If you do intend to apply this decision to your own circumstances, you will need to ensure that the relevant provisions referred to in the decision have not been amended or repealed. You may wish to obtain further advice from the Tax Office or from a professional adviser.


Is an amount received by a taxpayer with regard to a student who is boarding with them under a homestay arrangement, assessable under section 6-5 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (ITAA 1997)?


No, the amount received by a taxpayer with regard to a student who is boarding with them under a homestay arrangement is not assessable under section 6-5 of the ITAA 1997.


The taxpayer boards a student in their home under a homestay arrangement organised by the Department of Education.

The taxpayer intends to board one or two students at any time.

The amounts paid to the taxpayer to board the homestay student are used to pay all of the household expenses of the student (food, phone, electricity etc).

There may be a negligible amount of surplus money after expenses in any particular week.

Reasons for Decision

The term 'homestay' is used to describe accommodation provided to local and overseas students studying or training at Australian universities or other educational institutions.

Under a homestay arrangement, students live with the host family in their home. They are usually provided with their own room and have access to other household facilities. Main meals are provided by the host family. They may also have their laundry and ironing done, and provided with occasional transport. They may be required to help out with household chores and keep their room clean.

Housing officers at the educational institution determine how much is paid to the host family. The payments are designed to cover the costs to the host family of supplying food, utilities, and other minor expenses of the student.

Section 6-5 of the ITAA 1997 provides that the assessable income of an Australian resident includes all ordinary income derived directly or indirectly from all sources.

Rental income is normally regarded as ordinary income and therefore forms part of the taxpayer's assessable income. However, where there is a non-commercial or domestic arrangement, amounts paid for board or lodging do not give rise to the derivation of assessable income (FC of T v. Groser 82 ATC 4478; 13 ATR 445).

Taxation Ruling IT 2167 considers the consequences of different rental income producing situations. Paragraph 18 of IT 2167 states that:

'Situations arise where the owner of a residence permits persons to share the residence on the basis that all the occupants, including the owner, bear an appropriate proportion of the costs actually incurred on food, electricity etc. Arrangements of this nature are not considered to confer any benefit on the owner. There is no assessable income and the question of allowable deductions does not arise.'

Amounts received under the homestay arrangement are determined by the educational institution to cover the expenses of accommodating the student in the home. The amount of the payment is set with regard to the normal cost of supplying food, utilities and overheads for the student. These rates are not regarded as true commercial rates and there is no built in benefit component to the taxpayer for the use of parts of the house. While there might be some surplus on occasions to the home owner, these amounts will generally be small having regard to the expenditure incurred.

The amounts received by the taxpayer are made in relation to a non-commercial or domestic arrangement and are therefore not assessable income under section 6-5 of the ITAA 1997.

Date of decision:  14 September 2001

Legislative References:
Income Tax Assessment Act 1997
   section 6-5

Case References:
FC of T v. Groser
   82 ATC 4478
   13 ATR 445

Related Public Rulings (including Determinations)
IT 2167

Rental property income

Siebel/TDMS Reference Number:  DW259027

Business Line:  Small Business/Individual Taxpayers

Date of publication:  29 September 2001
Date reviewed:  20 January 2014

ISSN: 1445-2782