In a bid to make the carbon tax more acceptable to Australian households, the Gillard government started to send on Thursday payouts of the Schoolkids Bonus. The yearly payouts, at $409 per child in primary school and $818 per child in high school, are part of the Family Tax Benefits Plan A.
School children use solar viewers as they observe an annular eclipse at Hirai Daini Elementary School
It also replaced the old system in which families had to keep receipts for certain school expenses and refund it from the government. The payout comes less than two weeks to the collection of the controversial carbon tax on July 1.
The payouts are in two installments. The first one is paid at the start of term one and the second at the start of term three. It is supposed to help parents cover school costs such as uniforms, text books, stationery and school trips. About 2.2 million Australian school children are expected to benefit from the bonus.
Acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan said the Schoolkids Bonus was in response to clamor from Australians to overhaul the old system in which people had to keep their receipts and file paperwork.
"We decided it was time to reform it and reform it we did.... This was the proposal we took to the people in 2007 and I think it was enthusiastically supported. But the practice that we found over time was that any people, probably those who most needed it, were those that were not receiving it," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Mr Swan.
Under the old system about 80 per cent of families did not claim their education tax rebate or did not claim their full entitlement.
The payouts would be deposited directly into bank accounts. Mr Swan said by replacing the old system with the Schoolkids Bonus, one million Australian families will receive more cash since a typical family will get over $720 extra yearly.
However, since the payouts are linked to the carbon tax, it would be at risk if Opposition leader Tony Abbott wins in 2013 and makes true his promise to revoke the carbon tax, Mr Swan warned.
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