The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

10 May 2011

NO.047

Phasing out the Dependent Spouse Tax Offset

The Gillard Government will phase out the tax offset for dependent spouses currently aged less than 40 to help encourage more Australians into paid employment.

This reform will mean that from 1 July 2011 taxpayers with a dependent spouse born on or after 1 July 1971 will no longer be eligible for the dependent spouse tax offset (DSTO). This means the DSTO will be gradually phased out as the population ages.

Dependent spouses with children are not affected by this measure because they are eligible for Family Tax Benefit B rather than the DSTO.

The change will also not affect taxpayers whose dependent spouse is a carer, who is an invalid or permanently unable to work; and taxpayers eligible for the zone, overseas forces or overseas civilian tax offsets.

This will encourage younger dependent spouses without children to seek paid employment. Those aged in their 20s and 30s are of prime working age and have a reasonable prospect of gaining employment, particularly given the strength of the Australian economy.

This change recognises that dependent spouses who may have been out of the paid workforce for many decades would find it more difficult to find jobs, so they will continue to be eligible for the DSTO.

The DSTO has its origins in the initial Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 at a time when a breadwinner was expected to 'maintain' a spouse even without children, and there were limited employment opportunities for women.  This is no longer the case for most Australians in today's modern economy, especially with unemployment set to fall further to 4.5 per cent.

This reform to the DSTO forms part of the Government's Building Australia's Future Workforce package.

This Budget recognises that a bigger workforce is vital for the strength of our economy and the living standards of our community.

CANBERRA
10 May 2011