LEARNING—Tax Extinguishes Independent Learning

by Eva van Loon

The coming Huge Stupid Tax may significantly damp down the fires of independent learning in your community.

Tutors, home-schooling and micro-practices like cognition therapy may well simply fizzle out in the white foam of bureaucracy. Parents and students will have fewer choices in their efforts to cope with learning difficulties.

At present, educational services don’t attract PST. If practitioners are well under $30K a year, they don’t attract GST, either. Nice for students and parents. Makes life a little easier for them and gives the small practitioner or tutor a few more clients, a few more dollars.

One can live, more or less, on under $30K, and for the semi-retired, partly disabled, or otherwise marginalised, that makes life bearable.

After HST comes in, however, educational services have to be “approved” by an educational institution to gain exemption from the tax—both taxes.

What “approved by an educational institution” means, nobody knows. Do tutors need to get a stamp of approval on their foreheads from the local School District in order to avoid becoming tax collectors? Would a letter from an ESL school do the job? Who knows?

One thing’s for sure: institutions will be none too pleased to have the job of approving outside services loaded on them—it’s like being conscripted into a volunteer fire department when you already have a full-time job.

In the case of cutting-edge, scientifically based learning modalities like cognition therapy, which are not readily understood by people outside the field, no doubt getting “approved” would be a monumental task.

Will you pay 12% more for a tutor or cognition therapist? In the case of my main program, that works out to a whopping $600! Isn’t life hard enough? How does the government deserve $600 of your money for the little bit of practice I do?
On top of that, the professional now has to spend precious time better spent on real work pushing government paper into the fiery maw of government. How is it they get my time for free?

Unless the populace gets up off its duff and lights a fire under the government’s nether parts to dump the Huge Stupid Tax, July 2010 will mark the end of micro-practices like mine. We’ll have to move our work into institutions if we want to survive.

That’s what it’s all about, says the political cynic in me: control. Tax private services and you’ll drive people into the public institutions where they can be monitored and controlled.

If you care about independent educational services, it’s time to stand up for your right to contract privately for what you believe will help you, without having to tithe the government for it.

Or maybe you should just hustle down to your educational provider right now and get it all done before July.