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Seeking GST exemption for counsellors and psychotherapists

In July, in my capacity as CEO I wrote to the Treasurer, the Hon Josh Frydenberg, about GST exemption for counsellors and psychotherapists.

This letter was prompted by one of our members who contacted me, very concerned that vulnerable clients, some of whom are suicidal, have to start paying GST on their counselling as the member had just reached the GST threshold. This is not appropriate or fair given that these clients are seeking an essential mental health service.

It was a significant oversight that counsellors and psychotherapists were not included in the list of ‘other health services’ in section 38-10 (1) of A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 for the purposes of GST exemption. 

PACFA has previously advocated for an amendment to the legislation to extend GST exemption to cover counsellors and psychotherapists but our requests have never been supported. 

In the context of the current government’s commitment to improving mental health in the community, GST exemption for counsellors and psychotherapists could make a significant difference to vulnerable people being able to access mental health services.

Counsellors and psychotherapists are an important part of the health system, providing counselling and psychotherapy to support people to improve their mental health and wellbeing. There is no clear rationale for excluding counsellors and psychotherapists from GST exemption. PACFA therefor plans to actively advocate for a change to the GST legislation.