Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Must figure out how I can do this

Stolen from the Bella forums (source):

Taking on the tax office with deductive reasoning
Miki Perkins

April 20, 2009

MEET Symone Anstis, 24, a Victorian prep teacher local who took on the Tax Office and had a landmark win that could pave the way for hundreds of thousands of students to claim educational expenses as a tax deduction.

Three years ago, Ms Anstis was studying teaching at Australian Catholic University, working part time at women's clothing store Katies and receiving income support in the form of Youth Allowance.

Like many students, she struggled to make ends meet.

On her tax return that year Ms Anstis claimed $920 for educational expenses, including textbooks, student fees and travel expenses.

She reasoned that, because the Youth Allowance was part of her income, she should be able to claim deductions on relevant costs.

In the past, the Australian Taxation Office made it clear it would not allow educational expenses to be claimed against welfare payments.

Her father, Michael Anstis, who is a qualified solicitor but does not work as a lawyer, helped her with her return and told her the Government was likely to reject her claim. But they decided it seemed fair that students be able to claim educational costs, and pushed on regardless.

The Tax Office rejected the claim, so the pair fought the case all the way to the Federal Court. "It wasn't a lot of money but it was important — it's quite a hard life as a student," Ms Anstis said yesterday.

Asked if she was known for stubbornness, she laughed.

"I thought we were in the right, so I didn't want to just let it go. Why not take on the big guys?"
In court, Mr Anstis argued that because his daughter had to be enrolled in a full-time course of study to get her assessable income of Youth Allowance, any costs incurred in the course of studying should be deductible.

In a surprise judgement this month, the Federal Court agreed, ruling that in order to meet the requirements for Youth Allowance, a student was forced to make a range of expenses that the student should be entitled to claim as tax deductions.

Tax experts say this could set a precedent for students and other recipients of welfare payments who want to claim expenses against their pensions. About 440,000 students receive Youth Allowance or Austudy, according to Government figures.

KPMG tax partner Andy Hutt believes the decision may have ramifications for students on income support and they should consider which items — such as computers or textbooks — could be most obviously connected to their income.

During his preparations, Mr Anstis studied previous Federal Court tax cases.

He said that in the past two years only a handful had been won, and those had been led by teams of senior lawyers.

Mr Anstis said his daughter had taken on the issue to make a point about social justice, not for the modest financial gain.

"This should mean that students can claim the costs of their studies — it'll be worth about $300 or $400 to the average student," he said.

The Tax Office may appeal against the decision.

I completely agree that you should be able to claim educational expenses. If I'm paying tax on my Youth Allowance and need it in order to continue studying then I should be able to claim certain things. Especially since I found out I have to pay fringe benefits tax on my scholarship money. Effers.

Now I just have to figure out how to do it...

Sarah does not deal well in a crisis.

I think it would have to be due to both of my upbringings - with my parents and mostly with my grandparents. My mum was never very affectionate (hugs and kisses from her came when prompted (read: forced) by my grandmother), and my grandmother was very warm and cuddly and pretty much just the best.

But in sad times I've noticed that I've taken on traits from both that I don't think are helpful at all.

I force feed people.

What's that? You're sad? You've had a bad day? I'll make you some food, or buy you some junk, or make you eat your weight in chocolate.

Then I talk about stupid things that have absolutely nothing to do with your problems in the hopes that you then don't think about your problems. Then I offer you more food. Then I crack jokes that really aren't funny but I think are hysterical. Then if you cry or something, I offer the hugs and the appropriate noises (mostly, "I'm so sorry") then decide that chocolate is the cure (hey, if Lupin taught us anything in HP3 it's that chocolate solves all problems).

The food thing I get off both my mum and grandma. That's their solution for most things. If you're unhappy it must mean you need more feeding (helllooooo unhealthy attitude to food that I have now. Helllllooooooo all the weight I put on during my parents' divorce). I got the appropriate noises off my grandma, and the freak out feeling from my mum.

So at the moment one of my very best friends is going through something very sad and I'm here feeling helpless and offering more and more food. Are you sure you don't need me to bring something over? Sure? I'll bake! I'll buy! I'll do whatever.

Yeah. So don't call me for things unless you're hungry.

On another note, the flights to Europe are so expensive now - cheapest is Korean Airways for $1900. Damn it. That's more than both lots of Rudd-money. If I ever get my second payment. Plus, I just looked up when semester 1 starts next year - 1st March! This year it started 18th March. So now I have to leave in February. Che bastardi!

I want it NOW, daddy!


I've been lusting after this one camera ever since a cousin of mine in the Philippines had one. How is it that someone in the Philippines can afford one but I can't?? And she told me what she paid for it and it was equivalent to AU$500, which is sooooo much money for over here, let alone over there.

It wasn't in Australia when I first got back but it is now. And it's about $650 on sale. Hells no. Mum said she would buy it for me when we were in the Philippines, but I don't want her to pay that much for something. She would hold it over me forever. It's bad enough I let her pay for the laptop. Every argument we have comes back to the laptop. My only response is that I bought the cheapest one in the store so she wouldn't have to pay so bloody much. I could have gotten a better one but I stayed below $1000 so she should be happy.

Meanwhile, it's not even that great a camera. I'd prefer something with a higher optical zoom. But it's just so cute! And you can draw on your photos! DRAW ON YOUR PHOTOS!

Yeah, I won't get it. :(

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

That boy!

It's always really weird when Dan calls me because I look at my phone and go, "Really?" and answer waiting for him to ask me to do something. And then he seems to just want to chat. Then later he remembers that he wanted to ask if I know where his San Miguel glass that he stole from the Marco Polo hotel in Davao is (well, he didn't steal it because he's chicken-shit and the security guards had machine guns. EJ, our friend there, was friends with a woman who worked in the bar so she gave it to us). It's at Cassie's.

Oh, and I re-asked him if I could borrow his backpack when I go overseas. I've asked him so many bloody times and he keeps saying no because he likes it for when he goes camping. What? Never mind the time he took my suitcase without asking for a trip to Fiji. I didn't notice until I pulled it out from under my bed to go to the US and found Nadi tags on it. But if he had asked I wouldn't have cared. And who needs a huge backpack to go camping? How often does he go camping??? Get your own, he tells me. OK. How 'bout you give me the $200 to buy a new one, ja?

Anyway, so today I tentatively approach with, "Sooooooo, do you think you'll really need your backpack for the next eightish months or sooooo?"
His reply: "Huh? Oh, yeah, nah take it."
Me: "What???"
Dan: "I was only joking when I said you couldn't have it."

Yes, because it's very funny when someone asks about 20 times for something and is rejected. And for no good reason.

I don't think he was joking though. I think that my whinging to nan about the INJUSTICE of it all (and don't try and minimise it by pointing at real injustice in the world. Don't cheapen my pain!) and her nagging Daniel has paid off.

All in all, Sarah now has a backpack. I'll be one of THOSE travellers. Except... aparently there are boys' and girls' backpacks. Fuck it. I'll make it work.

Speaking of travel and all that, Lara sent me a letter today complete with wedding invitation for her sister's wedding in August, pictures of where I'll be sleeping and her street (so cute!), and 20 Euros. Woot! I'm nearly there! Honestly, I am loving these gifts. That 20 will definately come in handy.

On another note, I had a mini meltdown this afternoon. And by mini meltdown I mean adult tantrum. I had to control myself by leaving my room and going to Shuba's to whinge. My computer died. Yes, my computer I bought at Christmas. It died. The only way to fix it, said the dickwad on the phone, was to reformat it. Meaning I'd lose everything on the computer. So I had to do it. And now my computer is empty and has no love. And I have to redownload all that uni stuff and say goodbye to the rest. Damn it.

Monday, 27 April 2009


I forgot to mention that I woke up yesterday morning with a trail of bites along my belly. There's about ten all up. I feel abused. I then went and washed all my sheets. As soon as I have a chance I'm going to get my doona laundered. Meanwhile, it could have happened before bed, but I'm not taking any chances. It feels even worse when I think of those bloody "flea" poems I studied in my Shak-a-speare class last year. VIOLATED!!!

Also, it has come to my attention that I'm the shittest personal training client ever. From the second we start I'm like, "Is it time to stretch yet?" and I'm constantly giving the guy, "Are you serious?" looks each time he tells us what we're doing next. All in all, I'm annoying. But what do you expect when you're making someone like me exert herself physically? Don't be doing that. Even if I paid you to do that. Bad things happen. Usually to me though, because I'm always leaving bruised...

le death

Is what I am.

I was supposed to spend all yesterday doing my critical essay for creative writing. Instead I had an adult tantrum at the lack of co-operation I was being shown by my stinkin' laptop at the uni library, came home at 3pm only to be hit with the beginnings of that fluey ache. That would explain why the doctor told me the day before that I had a slight fever. Hey Doc, how about some preventative shit? Anyway, I had no Panadol or Advil so I dropped a few vitamins and got ready to lay around in my misery for the rest of the day. Until a knock at the door beckoned me. It was Zach and Theresa, the Zach and Theresa formerly of the room at the back of the house. They came to drop of Dexter season 2 for me because last year I had leant them Dexter season 1. How freaking nice is that? So I basically stayed up watching that and finished the rest just in time for my class today. I like that. Except I had to pop a sleeping tablet because then I couldn't sleep. Oh well.

I woke up feeling better, but more stressed due to the not-doneness of my essay.

My mum called last night. Got cranky cos I was trying to sleep. She said, "OK sorry," and hung up. Three seconds later (I'm assuming that's how long it takes to hit redial) she calls back. I'm like, If I didn't want to talk before, what's changed in the last few seconds to make me want to talk now??? Apparently nothing.

She calls again this morning. "So did you want me to ask your Auntie Nancy for those shawls for you?"

"Woman, I asked YOU to buy them for me two weeks ago. And you didn't. I don't want your stupid cheap shawls from your stupid country anymore."

"So should I ask for them?"

"No. While you're on the phone though, I have to quit work a month before I go overseas. Will you help me cos centrelink won't give me very much?"

"Oh I'm really busy I'll call you back."

Anyway, that's it for my whinging. You're welcome.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Ang's Wedding

Sarah is never allowed to drink alcohol. Never.

I made a total foolio out of myself at Angela's wedding on Saturday. I had only drunk 2 glasses of wine and was blind. Of course, then I proceeded to have another two, but that's neither here nor there.

Oh, and the wedding was lovely. Really pretty. Except for the choreographed dance. I really hate those.

But yeah. Never drinking again.

Things that make my heart glow!

I know I can get really doom and gloom about things and I get all, boo hoo life's so hard, but at the back of all of it I know I have really fabulous friends. FABULOUS friends. Friends that cook for me and buy me alcohol, put up with my whinging, lend me their DVDs even though they know I'm a slack returner, and send me tea in the mail.
So far this has happened twice, the first being from Jenni, the second being from Judith.

I just picked up Judith's parcel from the post office and it must have looked so weird to passers by when they saw my car glowing. That was just me getting the warm and fuzzies. Now I have no excuse about reading Kite Runner (that's next on my list Judith), I'll be all knowledged up when I get to Munich to visit you with my new travel guide and I will be well-rested thanks to the sleep-well tea (quite possibly one of the most thoughtful things EVER!). And I will be gloriously happy thanks to the milka and kinder chocolates. Soooo yummy!
Love you lots and I can't wait to see you!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Getting older.

I had a fabulous birthday weekend. We got to the Hunter Valley at about 3:30 and found our house. When I first saw it I was more than a little bit annoyed - it had a huge cactus in the front lawn, the type that would definately come alive at night and eat you. You know the type. And then when we went inside it pretty much went downhill. From the homoerotic images in the bathroom to the loungeroom where the 70s came to die, ending in the main bedroom with the king-sized waterbed. But then, somewhere along the line I was so repulsed I swung all the way around and decided that the house was a world of awesome.

I did my best to make up for a month's worth of sobriety but I didn't drink too much. I did realise how quickly I got tipsy though. Not good. Maybe my liver still isn't all there.

Watched a movie on Saturday night called Army of Darkness. One of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. It's the third movie in the Evil Dead franchise and isn't scary at all, just hillarious with lines like, "Gimme some sugar, baby," "Hail to the king," and "Groovy." (last line is said after his bionic hand is created... in the middle ages. too funny)

Spent Sunday going to more vineyards. It's amazing how tiring it is, but then you think about how long you spend in the car and the amount of alcohol you consume and then you get it. I only ended up with three bottles of wine (one thanks to Simon and Bec) and a swear it felt like as I was going that I bought so much more, but it's probably for the best that I didn't buy too much. As it is I bought two bottles of sparkling which was silly because it never seems to be the right occasion to drink it. But it has to be drunk before I go overseas so it will get done.

Speaking of overseas, I was talking to my auntie Joan who came over to my nan's today (oh why do my favourite people come when I have an assignment to work on? It was fine when it was just Dan and Cassie here...) and I was saying how I had to wait to buy my plane tickets because I only have about half the fare. She tells me the best news in ages: usually with a travel agent you just put down a deposit and pay the rest a month or two before you're due to leave. Wow! It's been so long since I've booked anything with a travel agent that I've forgotten how it works.

Anyway, she's going to England in May for 5 months so I'm visiting her. She'll be in Shropshire. Shropshire? 'ow wondaful! Very Exotic. Yep. Quoting a 10 yr-old Moccona ad. That's just how I roll.

Also, is it wrong to not like a birthday present? I was so disappointed by Daniel's present to me: he bought me an rnb Superclub CD. That would have been a great present for me 7 years ago. But I'm kind of over that now. Plus, it's a greatest hits CD so I own every song on the double CD on account of owning all the other rnb Superclub cds... I just had it in my head that he was buying me tickets to Air Supply and I guess I'm just pretty disappointed. Especially because his present PALES in comparison to the awesome stuff I got from my friends this weekend. Anyway, I have the receipt so I'll try and return it, but I don't like my chances because it doesn't have one of those security stickers.

So I had that dinner last night (this post is written over two days). It was good. It was good hanging out with friends but my Uncle Dino was being his typical self. First he was complaining that we should have sat outside because it was quieter. Well, you go sit outside then. Then he was saying let's order, and I'm like, not everyone has arrived, and he's like, that's their problem. Then I changed seats and didn't have to hear anything more. Dan, Cassie, Jonas and Amber just stood around in a group talking while we were waiting for our table, so Mel and I are standing there talking about the weather (but obviously funner). I don't know. Maybe I can't enjoy anything without whinging about it afterwards. It was great having one of my regular chats with Nicole afterwards - we're leaving for London on the same day - I shall attempt to get onto the same flight.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Gosh, I was such a sad sack last night!

Much better this morning. Tired though cos I stayed up late finishing one of those Sookie Stackhouse books. Those things are like crack - so bad but I want it!

Finished a third of my history assignment. I should finish the rest by Monday, right? RIGHT???

I was reading an article in the Weekend SMH this morning by a guy in his 20s who had never seen the Star Wars movies and what he thought they were about, then he watched them and went through what he got wrong. I thought this was funny, although the movies are now spoiled for me so I'll never have to watch them! Hurrah!

Erm... I have nothing else to say. Except I'm hanging out for a hotcross bun so I have to high-tail it to the shops before they're all gone!

Friday, 3 April 2009

It's much cooler today, meaning it's still a world of HOT.

Ready to kill my family. Ready to scratch my face off (it's official - I'm allergic to every country that isn't my nanna's house. Face is sooo itchy, same thing I got in Newcastle mid-last year and in the US when I first went over there). Ready to throw my brother through a wall. And my sister can go through the wall after Dan has already damaged it.

Soooo tired too. Someone has to be at the funeral parlour at all times and be awake to keep vigil over the body. The coffin is open with a glass cover so you can't touch the body. So far I glimsped a bit of the nose. That was one nose too much for me. It's so weird seeing little children (like, 4 and 5 years old) run up, look in, eat their banana, then go play.

So weird meeting these new little cousins. They're adorable and shy and I just want to cuddle them and make them like me and play with me. So far only one has done that, and he's a second cousin, but apparently here that makes me his auntie? I'll take it. He's a cheeky little monkey. The others are too shy. And I keep forgetting that me talking to them in English isn't helping the situation because they don't learn English until they start school. Woops. I gave one kid a packet of Airwaves gum yesterday cos that's all I had on me, forgetting that they're the strongest minty type of gum. Poor kid cried from the pain of breathing in. I guess we aren't going to be besties.

Things I've loving: the fruit!! So much different fruit. I've found one I love - it's called mangosteen and it's kind of like a lychee but yummier. It's the size of a tennis ball, the colour of blood plums and the feel of a persimmon. You break it open and don't eat the purple skin but the inside white fleshy/lychee-y bit.


Daniel's shitting me. He makes comments about me that are so incredibly rude and insensitive. He doesn't get that it's not OK to say those things about anyone, but apparently it's OK to say those things to me. I can't believe there's another 4 days to go. 4 loooong days.

Mary woke up in her bratty mood today so I'm keeping clear.

I always wake up in a bratty mood, so I try to keep clear of myself.

Oh, funniest thing yesterday - driving through the city at about 10pm and on the side of the road I see a man riding a push bike and leading a cow with a rope tied to the ring in its nose. Loved it.