What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Luxury Car Tax

Earlier this week, the Federal Government (newly elected at the end of last year) announced its first ever budget. Overall, it seems pretty good. But as far as I'm concerned, there are two major flaws with it.

The Government will increase the tax on luxury cars (defined as cars costing over $57,000) from 25 to 33%. Sounds reasonable. I'm right behind this initiative.

But - hang on a minute…

We have three kids. Two of them have a mild to moderate physical disability with one of them needing a wheelchair. They are gorgeous kids, not very high maintenance, and they will one day be productive, tax paying members of society. But they need some extra help, and so far, we’ve footed most of the bill.

We had to buy a more accessible house and significantly modified it at our expense. All in all, we'er about 300,000 in debt when all is said and done. Our daughter is too young to qualify for NSW government assistance for a wheelchair, so we have to buy it ourselves. And we need to buy a new car that can be converted to be wheelchair accessible.

There are only a handful of cars that can accommodate our needs. There is no GST exception, no tax deductibility, on either the purchase of the car or the conversion (which costs around $25,000).

Many of the cars suitable for a wheelchair conversion, especially those that hold a family with a disabled person cost over $57,000 - which makes them “luxury cars” and will now be hit by an even higher tax.

As said, I am totally in favour or a high tax on luxury cars. But I’m not exactly buying some snazzy sports car, cool Mercedes or fancy Lexus 4WD here but a vital piece of equipment for our family.

Yesterday Mr. Rudd promised that parents of disabled children will not be hit by the rise in the luxury car tax and said there was already a range of exemptions from the tax for people with disabilities.

Now, I checked the Australian Taxation Office website for the details on these luxury car tax exemptions for people with a disability.

Does Mr. Rudd know these apply only if the person with the disability is the driver or if the car is “specifically fitted out for transporting disabled people seated in wheelchairs” - with the definition of disabled limited to those who have lost limbs. Unfortunately (?) our young daughter has all limbs intact and will travel in the car (not drive it), with her (empty) electric wheelchair strapped in the back – a safer option for those who can weight-bear enough to transfer in and out of a car.

This must mean Mr. Rudd either does not know his own government’s regulations – or his he going to overhaul current fiscal legislation applicable to those with disabilities?

Please, Mr. Rudd. I voted for you for a better future for my (disabled and non-disabled) kids. Don’t disappoint them.

Oh - and the other issue I have with the new budget? You'll have to check out my other blog...

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