How to claim tax back in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa
The purpose of this post is to explain how to claim tax back in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa, without using an agent! If you’ve been working and living in Australia for over 6 months, then you should be eligible for a tax refund at the end of the tax year. The amount that is refunded will obviously depend on how long you’ve lived in the country, how much you earn in total and what visa you entered the country on.
After starting work in Australia, employers must supply a ‘Employment Declaration Form’ which is submitted to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) with your details, including your Tax File Number (TFN) which you receive from the government by filing in the online forms here. On the declaration form, you should / should have chosen to tick ‘YES’ for ‘Resident for Tax Purposes’ sections, as living and working in Australia for over 6 months technically makes you a ‘resident’. This saves you from paying the higher tax rate of 32.5% paid by workers that work less than 6 months!
Australia has a different tax year to the UK, which runs from the 1st July – 30th June. All workers, no matter how long they worked or when they arrived MUST submit a tax return to the ATO before the end of October of that financial year. This is so they can work out whether you need a refund, or if you owe tax (which is highly unlikely).
As a ‘resident’ you would have been taxed at the rate of 19% over $18,200, which goes up to a threshold of $37,000 (tax percentage increases as salary increases). So, if you earn’t less than $18,200 in a year, you’d technically receive all of your tax back!
If you really don’t fancy faffing around with paperwork or finding old payslips or employer ABNs (Australian Business Number’s) then you can outsource your tax return to one of the many tax agents around. However, in doing so, you have to pay a fee (either a sum or a percentage of your refund!) So, if you are a little savvy with paperwork and want to save a bit of money, it really is simple just doing it yourself.
There are two ways to apply, either online or by paper. If you apply online through myTax service, you’ll usually receive a refund (if qualified) in around 12 business days.
However, if like myself, the online portal failed to work, then you can do it the old fashioned way of printing out the forms (found here) and filling it by HAND and sending it in the post. Yes, post. Stamp and everything. The disadvantage is that it takes a LOT longer for the forms to be processed. My tax return took around 5 weeks to come back to me. And the ATO states that it takes an average of 50 business days to be returned. So just be aware.
What will I need?
First of all, you’ll need to make sure you have a few details to hand. This includes:
- All final payslips from each employer you worked for
- Your TFN
- Employer details (address, ABN)
- Australian bank account
- ATO relevant tax year form (2016 forms found here – they are a bugger to find, so you’re welcome!)
The tax return form may look daunting with the millions of pages. However, as I found out, you only need to fill in the first two pages and sign the last. So don’t panic.
The only difficult bit is when you come to filling in your income. You’ll come across this:
If you only had one job, then this will be easy. You fill in the company’s ABN, along with how much tax you paid and how much OVERALL income you earnt (i.e. before the tax was deducted).
However, if you’ve had more than 5 jobs, this is where it gets a little odd. Firstly, order the jobs in terms of overall pay. Once you have them sorted, take the lowest paid jobs, i.e. job number 5 and 6, and add them together. In other words, you calculate overall tax paid and income earnt for 2 jobs, and leave the ABN blank. Make sense? I hope so!
Everything else on this page is irrelevant unless you received other income not related to salary (i.e. pension payments).
Make sure you add up ‘Total Tax Withheld‘ in section 9. Once that’s filled in, all you need to do is sign the declaration on page 10 and you’re done!
Once you’ve filled in everything, just pop it in the post to:
Australian Taxation Office
GPO Box 9845
SYDNEY NSW 2001, AUSTRALIA
And await that rebate! Now, as I said previously, the amount that you’ll receive really does depend on your circumstances. They say the average refund is around $2500. But I’ve know people to receive both WAY more or WAY less.
Have you done your own tax return? Was it as easy or harder than you expected? Or did you decide to use a tax agent? Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
**Please be aware, I am not a financial adviser, this is just how I completed my own tax refund. You can always contact the Australian Taxation Office for more in-depth information**
Amy is the founder of thewanderlustadventures.com. Currently residing in Reading, UK with a love of adventure travel, writing and photography - she pretty much writes about whatever the hell she wants!