03.Education savings plans
Education savings plans (ESP), which offer a tax-free investment for education, sound like a good idea, but it’s critical to find out what kind of leverage these have over your money. There are only two available, The Education Fund (TEF) from the Australian Scholarship Group (ASG) and Lifeplan’s Education Investment Fund (LEIF).
ESPs are designed for saving for tertiary education, as the earnings on investments are paid directly to the nominated child. These earnings are taxed as income for the student (income up to $16,000 is usually tax-free for students over 18). However, high tax rates apply to children under 18 – anything interest above $416 up to $1307 is taxed at 66%. If a child has interest income of more than $1307, the whole amount is taxed at 45%. See our report on Kid’s savings accounts.
So while your child is under 18 it’s better to only withdraw contributions to help with education expenses, as you can do this taxfree, however it will reduce the earnings. Earnings are taxed at the company tax rate of 30%, but if the earnings are used for a broad range of education expenses, the ATO refunds all tax paid on them to the fund.