Did you receive Youth Allowance anytime between 2007 and 2010?
A recent High Court decision has concluded that students should be allowed to claim study expenses - like text books, home study expenses and depreciation of laptops/computers - as a deduction against income earned from Youth Allowance.
The ATO is now applying this decision retrospectively by adjusting the tax assessments of anyone who received Youth Allowance between 2007 and 2010, applying an additional tax deduction of $550 for each year. If your marginal tax rate was (say) 15%, that's $82.50 that should be returned to you for each year - and potentially higher for a year where you may have started full-time employment.
If you have evidence that your study expenses were greater than $550, you can claim for a greater deduction - but you should contact the ATO now.
What do you need to do?
If you are eligible, the ATO should have already contacted you. Haven't heard from them? Give them a call right now on 132 861 to make sure you aren't missing out.
If you've received your letter, and you haven't got evidence of study expenses greater than $550 in a year, you shouldn't need to do anything - the ATO will deposit any refund into your account before the end of May (as long as they have your bank details!).
What does this mean going forward?
If you're still a student, make sure you keep receipts relating to your study expenses. At the very least, hang on to your receipts for textbooks, any electronics you may use for study (laptops, desktops, tablet PCs) and peripherals for those devices that you use for study (laptop stands, keyboard/mice, headphones, etc). Without these, you may miss out on deductions that you are entitled to that could end up saving you several hundred dollars a year.