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ATO Interpretative Decision

ATO ID 2001/18 (Withdrawn)

Income Tax
Rebates: Sole Parent Rebate (Access Periods)

Attention This ATO ID is withdrawn as the interpretative issue is covered in IT 254.
Attention This document has changed over time. View its history.
FOI status: may be released
Status of this decision: Decision Withdrawn 28 October 2005

CautionCAUTION: This is an edited and summarised record of a Tax Office decision. This record is not published as a form of advice. It is being made available for your inspection to meet FOI requirements, because it may be used by an officer in making another decision.

This ATOID provides you with the following level of protection:

If you reasonably apply this decision in good faith to your own circumstances (which are not materially different from those described in the decision), and the decision is later found to be incorrect you will not be liable to pay any penalty or interest. However, you will be required to pay any underpaid tax (or repay any over-claimed credit, grant or benefit), provided the time limits under the law allow it. If you do intend to apply this decision to your own circumstances, you will need to ensure that the relevant provisions referred to in the decision have not been amended or repealed. You may wish to obtain further advice from the Tax Office or from a professional adviser.


Whether the taxpayer is entitled to a sole parent rebate under section 159K of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 for periods during which the taxpayer had access to the taxpayer's children.


The taxpayer is not entitled to a sole parent rebate under section 159K of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 for the periods the taxpayer had access to the taxpayer's children.

(Note: the sole parent rebate is not available for assessments for the 2000-01 and later income years: section 159K(1A))


The taxpayer is divorced and has children from a previous marriage. During the relevant year, the taxpayer's former spouse has custody of the children and the taxpayer has access to the children for regular periods of time at weekends totalling 87 days and 41 other occasions for a period of four hours on each occasion

Reasons For Decision

The taxpayer does not satisfy the requirements of section 159K of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 , and is not entitled to any sole parent rebate for the relevant year.

Although the taxpayer has had access for long periods on several occasions, on the whole the taxpayers access is typified by overnight visits which do not qualify as significant periodic access in accordance with the provisions of Taxation Ruling IT 254.

Subsection 159K(2) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 outlines the circumstances in which a taxpayer, having sole care of dependants for only part of the year , is entitled to a rebate of tax. Taxation Ruling IT 254 specifically states that the sole parent rebate 'is not to apply where the access is of an insignificant nature'. It cites two to three days per week as an example of significant periodic access.

The requirements for claiming the sole parent rebate for the whole year under section 159K of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 are set out in Taxation Ruling IT 2337. The Ruling provides that the rebate is allowable where a taxpayer has the sole care of a dependant, being a child under 16 or a full time student under 25; the taxpayer was entitled to a concessional rebate for the dependant had the concessional rebates for dependants not been withdrawn; and, the taxpayer is not entitled to a concessional rebate for a daughter-housekeeper or a housekeeper.

With respect to sole care , in Case M78 , the Board distinguished sole care , which it held to relate to ultimate and exclusive responsibility for providing care to the child, from the degree of care due from those by whom care is given on a temporary basis. As such, notwithstanding the lengthy periods the taxpayer has access to the children (amounting to 24% of the relevant year), the taxpayer's former spouse was alone in having 'sole care' of the children. There is no doubt that the taxpayer would have had a high degree of care for the children on a temporary basis during the periods the taxpayer had access to the children, but this is not equivalent to 'sole care'.

This is consistent with Case T45 , in which the divorced taxpayer had custody of her child with her ex-husband having liberal rights of access. He looked after the child for about 40% of the time, expended money on the child and paid maintenance for the child. The Commissioner allowed part of the maximum sole parent rebate to both the taxpayer and her former husband. The taxpayer objected, claiming that she was entitled to the full rebate. It was ultimately held by the Board that only the taxpayer qualified for the rebate.

Date of decision: 23 May 1997

Legislative References:
Income Tax Assessment Act 1936
   section 159K

Case References:
Case M78
   80 ATC 549

Case 53
   24 CTBR (NS) 457

Case T45
   86 ATC 370

Case 44
   29 CTBR (NS) 324

Related Public Rulings (including Determinations)
IT 254
IT 2337

Sole parent rebates

Business Line: Small Business/Individual Taxpayers

Date of publication: 4 June 2001

ISSN: 1445-2782

ATO ID 2001/18 (Withdrawn) history   Top  
   Date   Version 
   23 May 1997   Original statement   
 You are here ®  28 October 2005   Withdrawn   


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