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JobKeeper cuts, uni fees on the rise: the changes you should know

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A new year, a new raft of changes to regulations and social welfare entitlements. Here are some of the key ones to be across.

COVID support cut

The government will gradually pare back its economic support for those who have lost work due to COVID-19.

jobkeeper cuts january 4

From January 4, the JobKeeper payment will be cut by $100 a fortnight, dropping to $1000 per fortnight for those working 20 hours or more a week and $650 per fortnight for those working less than 20 hours. The scheme will be wound up entirely on March 28.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus supplement will be cut back from $250 a fortnight to $150 a fortnight from January 1.

Superannuation guarantee has changed

From January 1, high-income earners who receive income from multiple employers will be allowed to opt out of the superannuation guarantee from at least one of their employers. This is designed to prevent employees unintentionally breaching the $25,000 concessional contributions cap.

Also, last year's federal budget slated an increase to the superannuation guarantee (SG) to 10% in July, with annual increases of 0.5% thereafter up to 12% in 2025.

That said, the increase to SG is a hot button topic and may be scrapped or postponed, so watch this space.

Drug prices have gone up

The co-payment you pay for medications subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will rise, as it generally does every year in line with inflation.

According to the PBS website, from January 1, 2021, you may pay up to $41.30 for most medicines covered by the scheme, or $6.60 if you have a concession card.

However, health minister Greg Hunt says the PBS co-payment for concession cardholders will remain capped at $6.60 per script in 2021.

Health insurance cover extended

From April, the maximum age of dependents allowed on private health insurance policies will be lifted from 24 to 31 years of age.

University fees are on the rise

University students are set to be saddled with more debt, depending on the chosen course of study, with the government's tertiary fee hikes taking affect this January.

The changes will see the cost of arts and law degrees increase 113% and 28% respectively, while the cost of mathematics and agriculture degrees, among others, would drop by up to 62%.

NSW could scrap stamp duty

New South Wales might be waving goodbye to stamp duty later this year.

The proposed changes, announced as part of the 2020-21 state budget and open for public feedback until March next year, would give homeowners the option of either paying stamp duty upfront or paying a smaller annual land tax. The rates would differ depending on whether you're an owner-occupier or investor.

Importantly, homeowners would not be double taxed - if you've already paid stamp duty, you won't be up for the land tax.

We're cutting through the confusion to help you manage your money during the coronavirus outbreak. Click here for more on how COVID-19 could affect your job, budget, super and investments.

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David Thornton is a journalist at Money magazine. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.
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