Tax in Australia
Understanding the tax system can help you avoid problems with the Australian Tax Office.
This is particularly important if you plan to work part time while you study in Australia.
- Tax File Number
As the holder of a temporary resident visa you must be in Australia to apply for a tax file number. A tax file number (TFN) is a number issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Each TFN is unique to a particular person. Only one TFN is issued to you for your lifetime. It is to your advantage to get a TFN because:
- if you have a TFN you will not be charged a withholding tax fee on your Australian bank account
- you must have a TFN if you want to work in Australia.
If you are a permanent migrant or temporary visitor to Australia (student visa holder), you can apply for a TFN online at any time after entering Australia
You can apply online by going to the ATO web, then select ‘For individuals’. Then on the left-hand side of the screen, ‘Get a tax file number or update your details’, then 'Non residents, migrants and visitors', ‘Migrants and visitors apply online'. Then 'Permanent migrants or temporary visitors - Apply online’.
This option is available if you are a:
- working holiday-maker
- New Zealander (who is automatically granted a visa on arrival)
- overseas student
- person with a valid visa allowing you to stay in Australia indefinitely, and
- person with a business visa.
To apply online, you need a valid passport or relevant travel documents and must be:
- authorised to work in Australia by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC)
- or have a valid overseas student visa allowed to remain in Australia indefinitely, and be in Australia when you lodge your application.
Please note: there are companies that charge a fee to international students to obtain a TFN for the students before they arrive. It is not necessary to pay an agent/ provider any fee to receive a TFN. This service is free once you have arrived in Australia. As a temporary resident visa holder you must be in Australia to lodge your application for a TFN.
See Tax file number - application or enquiry for an individual living outside Australia if you seek clarification about this.
Fill out a tax file number application form for an individual (NAT 1432). You can obtain the NAT 1432 form from:
- ATO website—search for 1432 on the Forms page.
- ATO Adelaide office (located at 91 Waymouth Street, Adelaide)
- International Student Support
Lodge it in person at the Adelaide Taxation Office. You must provide two identification documents (e.g. passport, a student card, driver’s licence).
- Lodging a Tax Return
If you work in Australia while you are studying you must lodge a tax return each year to tell the ATO your annual income so they can work out how much tax you must pay. Tax returns cover the financial year, which ends on 30 June. The ATO use the information you provide to work out the amount of your tax refund or tax debt. If you've paid too much tax and are entitled to a refund, lodging a tax return is the way you get this money back.
You can prepare and lodge your tax return online using e-tax, by mailing a paper return or by using a registered tax agent.
Tax Help Program
Low income earners may be eligible for the free Tax Help Program. See the Tax Help section of the ATO web for more details.
Student Care at the Adelaide University Union offer the Tax Help Program on campus for students. To make an appointment to access this service on campus or to ask any questions about the service, please contact Student Care by email or telephone, 8313 5430.
- Returning Home
Depending on your circumstances, when you leave Australia you may be able to:
- lodge your tax return early
- claim your super
For more details see the Returning to your home country section of the ATO web.