Local candidate for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has challenged the Federal Government to finally approve the tax relief measure for Kangaroo Island residents that she was negotiating during her time as MP.
The measure could place up to an additional $1600 into the pockets of KI residents each year.
In other campaign news, new polling suggests Liberal candidate Georgina Downer will struggle to win the South Australian seat of Mayo in July's federal by-election,
A ReachTEL poll of 831 voters shows Centre Alliance candidate Rebekha Sharkie with a 58-42 lead over Ms Downer on a two-party preferred basis.
Ms Sharkie meanwhile said the tax break would help families with the cost of living on Kangaroo Island and is consistent with policies for other island-based residents in northern Australia, and in Tasmania.
“Including KI in the tax offset zone is an issue I worked with the local community to achieve, and which the Government itself acknowledges would only cost the Federal Budget about $200,000 a year,” Ms Sharkie said.
“That’s small change for this Government but it would make such a difference to the lives of KI people, so I call on the PM to finally approve this measure.
“I have met a number of times with Finance Minister Kelly O’Dwyer to formally discuss the tax offset, and I have presented a KI community petition to the Parliament.
“The Minister acknowledged the anomaly, now it’s time to act.”
The Australian Taxation Office tax offset zone is designed to compensate people for geographic disadvantage.
Living in Zone B could put between $57 and $1600 in the pockets of individuals and families on KI.
A petition calling for the island to be included in Zone B was organised by KI resident Lisa Thompson and was signed by about 10 per cent of the island’s population, nearly 500 people.
Rebekha presented the community petition to Federal Parliament in February 2017 and wrote to Minister O’Dwyer to argue the case for including KI.
The petition is still active on Ms Sharkie’s website – sign the petition here
“When I later met with the Minister she told me she was impressed with the detail we provided in our letter to argue for KI to be included in the zone and she recognised that a significant portion of the island’s population supported the move, as expressed in the petition,” Rebekha said.
“More than a year later we do not have a final decision and that is deeply disappointing for a measure that would cost so little to provide so much assistance for KI people who face challenges mainland residents do not.”
The ATO has three types of income tax concession zones recognising higher costs of living in specially defined remote parts of Australia.
The concessions are a direct tax offset, not a deduction, meaning they directly reduce a person’s tax bill.
The proposed offset for KI would range from $57 for an individual without children to $1607 for a sole parent with a dependent child under the age of 21 years or a dependent student under 25.
Two-parent families could be eligible for rebates of between $376 for their first child or student and $282 for each subsequent child, depending on their age and education status.