AAMRI submission to the review of Australian Taxation Office Advice on scholarships

AAMRI submission to the review of Australian Taxation Office Advice on scholarships

4th April, 2017

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is undertaking a review of its taxation advice on scholarships. AAMRI has put forward a submission in response to a discussion paper released by the ATO.

In the discussion paper the ATO is considering the income tax eligibility status of scholarships that result in commercial benefits being delivered to the scholarship provider. This can sometimes be the case for scholarships that provide industry placements. AAMRI argues that the principle purpose of a scholarship, to support students in achieving a qualification and skills, should be the determining principle when deciding the income tax exemption status of a scholarship. The definitions used within the discussion paper could result in certain types of scholarships, particularly those with industry links being subject to income tax. This has the potential to increase collaboration barriers between the end-users of research, and the university and MRI sector. AAMRI’s submission also calls for part-time scholarships to be income tax exempt. At present part-time scholarships are not income-tax exempt and this anomaly disadvantages those equity groups that are less likely to study full-time, including women, regional students, remote students, students with a disability, and Indigenous students.