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This is not advice. Items herein are general comments only and do not constitute or convey advice per se. The information contained in these articles is for guidance only and should not be relied upon without obtaining professional advice having regard to your direct circumstances.


Recognising Same-Sex Relationships

In 2008, the Australian Government passed wide-ranging reforms recognising all couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, making sure that same-sex couples and their families are recognised and have the same entitlements and obligations as opposite-sex couples.

So, from 1 July 2009, there will be changes to definitions of ‘spouse’, ‘de facto relationship’, ‘relationship’ and ‘child’ which will make sure that all couples and families will be treated the same way for tax purposes, regardless of gender. This includes having the same access to tax concessions, regardless of their partner’s gender.

Programs affected by this law

The following programs are affected by this law change:

• Medicare levy reduction or exemption
• Medicare levy surcharge
• Dependent tax offset
• Parent/parent-in-law offset
• Invalid relative tax offsets
• Senior Australians tax offset
• Pensioner tax offset
• Beneficiary tax offset
• Fringe benefit tax
• Education tax refund
• Spouse super contributions tax offset
• Relationship breakdown and transferring assets
• Main residence exemption in Capital Gains Tax.

These changes are part of a whole-of-government reform. To see other areas that this law affects, visit the Attorney-General’s website for the same-sex legislation at

Additional information for clients

From 1 July, people living in a same-sex de facto or registered relationship will be recognised as being partners for Centrelink and Family Assistance Office (FAO) purposes.  Their entitlements and payment rates will be worked out in the same way as for all couples. This may affect people who receive social security and family assistance payments and services.

A person will be considered to be a partner for Centrelink and FAO purposes if they and another person are living together, or usually live together, and any of the following apply:

• they are married
• they are in a relationship registered under certain prescribed state or territory laws whether they are the opposite or the same-sex
• they are in a de facto relationship (opposite or same-sex)

Centrelink and the FAO consider a person to be in a de facto relationship from the time they start living with another person as a member of a couple.

Children from same-sex relationships will be recognised by law, including children born following an artificial conception procedure or children born under a surrogacy arrangement where parentage has been transferred by court order under the prescribed state or territory law.

For more information visit Centrelink’s website at

The Tax Agent
June 2009


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