Policy Submission: Greater Fairness and Equity in the Taxation of Special Disability Trusts
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The Julia Farr Association (JFA) wishes to make a submission to the Treasury on the ‘Greater fairness and equity in the taxation of Special Disability Trusts’.
JFA would like to make the following recommendations to Special Disability Trusts:
Recommendation 1 - Restrictive Eligibility Criteria
The eligibility criteria for a child who is under the age of 16 for a Special Disability Trust is that they have a ‘profound disability’.
JFA expresses concern that this eligibility criterion is restrictive and does not allow for the needs of children who have a ‘moderate’ or ‘mild’ disability. JFA believes it is important for family members who have a child with a ‘moderate’ or’ mild’ disability to be given the same opportunity to provide for their child’s future support needs as a family who has a child who meets the current criterion of having a ‘profound disability’. A family may still experience the same concerns for their child around accommodation and support needs as a family who has a child with a ‘profound disability’. Planning is essential to all families. The eligibility criteria for a person who is over the age of 16 for a Special Disability Trust is that the person has:
- A level of impairment that meets the criteria for a disability support pension (DSP);
- Has support needs that would qualify a carer for carer payment or allowance;
- Is living in a State funded accommodation service for people with disabilities;
- Is unable to work for a wage that is at or above the relevant minimum wage.
JFA believes that there are people who do not meet these criteria and are therefore excluded from the opportunity to plan for their future. With the present inadequacy of the government to meet the support needs of people living with disability it warrants the presence of other measures such as liberalising the eligibility criteria to allow people currently excluded to plan for their future through a Special Disability Trust.
Recommendation 2 - Restrictive application of the trust
Under the current criteria a Special Disability Trust can only pay for the direct care and accommodation needs of the principal beneficiary. JFA supports a submission made by Activ Foundation to the Senate Inquiry to Investigate the Low Take up of Special Disability Trusts. Activ Foundation described how families seek more than minimum care and accommodation needs; they want to ensure that their family member’s other essential needs and quality of life needs are also being met through recreation, entertainment and clothingii. JFA strongly believes that people who are in receipt of a trust should be entitled to the everyday things in life which most of us take for granted. Many people in receipt of the Disability Support Pension are on a low income, so less restrictive conditions within Special Disability Trust would assist a person living with disability to access other important things in life.
Recommendation 3 - Special Disability Trust Title
JFA suggests a renaming of the trust from ‘Special Disability Trust’ to ‘Personal Disability Trust’. The word ‘special’ is defined as ‘distinguished or different from what is ordinary or usual.’iii The word ‘special’ implies that the person is recognised as being ‘different’. JFA believes that it is important to highlight a person’s ability not their disability.