The Australian Computer Society (ACS) and the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) have indicated disapproval of Treasurer Wayne Swan’s move to limit tax deductibles for work-related self-education expenses to $2000.
The change will take effect from 1 July 2014, the Treasurer announced.
President of the ACS Nick Tate has called for the Treasurer to review the reform with Professions Australia, saying it’s a “matter of urgency”.
“This proposal does not recognise that ongoing professional education and development is a necessity not only for ICT professionals in today’s market, but for assurance and risk mitigation in an increasingly online world,” Tate said in a statement.
AIIA chief executive officer Suzanne Campbell said the reform is “directly at odds” with the need to address the ICT skills shortage in Australia.
“I think that the proposal hasn’t been thought through, it seems to be an ad-hoc response to the need to reduce expenditure without consideration to the broader issues at stake and optimising the NBN [National Broadband Network] investment in particular,” Campbell said.
“We don’t want people to have skills which were relevant in the past but are no longer relevant to the market. Certainly limiting the amount of expenses that can be claimed ignores how these arrangements can be used as an incentive to drive ICT skills development, particularly where they are critical to our competitiveness and a global digital economy.”
Tate said the proposal would “discourage professional development in a key area for our economy” which could lead to organisations having to rely more on 457 visas to meet the demand in ICT skills.
He also believes limiting tax deductibles could create further barriers for women and elderly people wanting to re-enter the workforce, and said that there is already the challenge in encouraging women to pursue a career in ICT.
Campbell said there needs to be a more holistic approach to addressing a skills shortage and believes the reform goes against this.
“As well as focusing on driving up ICT enrolments at university and TAFE, or in the VET sector more generally, we really need to be looking at approaches that encourage people to keep their skills up-to-date and to retrain them as necessary because ICT is constantly evolving,” she said.
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