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A Tax File Number (TFN) is a unique number issued to individuals and organisations to help the Tax Office administer tax and other Australian Government systems. Your TFN is one of your most important forms of identification in Australia and is yours to keep for life. As such, it is important that you keep it private and secure it against identity theft.
As an international student in Australia, it is generally necessary for you to apply for a TFN if you intend to work or if you want to open a bank account. Although it is not compulsory to quote a TFN, without it you may:
A TFN will also help you:
Generally, taxation laws will affect you when you open a bank account or commence employment. Your status as a resident will determine the amount of tax that is withheld as you earn or receive income, for example, from employment or bank interest.
As a general rule, an overseas student who comes to Australia to pursue a course of study that is longer than six months will be treated as a resident of Australia for taxation purposes. Residents can earn up to a certain amount before tax is withheld, whereas non-residents have to pay tax on all their earnings. If you are in any doubt about your residency status, contact the Australian Tax Office (ATO) for clarification. Please note that residency for taxation purposes may be different to residency for immigration purposes. If you are a student, you may be a resident for taxation purposes, but not for immigration purposes.
If your course of study is less than 6 months, you are generally not considered a resident for taxation purposes, and may not be eligible for a tax file number. When opening a bank account, you should supply your overseas address to the bank and the bank will automatically deduct 10% tax from any interest earned from your investments.
Generally, taxation laws will affect you when you open a bank account or when you commence employment. These situations will require you to obtain a Tax File Number (TFN) from the ATO. A TFN is used by the ATO to ensure correct identification of the people it interacts with. This is usually when individuals lodge their income tax returns.
If you are a permanent migrant or temporary visitor to Australia, you can apply for a TFN online when you arrive in Australia provided you have a:
To apply, complete the online individual tax file number (TFN) registration. When applying online, you do not have to physically provide proof of your identity.
Applying for a TFN using false or other peoples' identity details, or misusing your TFN, can mean heavy fines or jail.
If you need more information about TFNs, visit the ATO website or phone 13 28 61 between 8 am and 6 pm, Monday to Friday.
The Australian financial year ends on June 30. At this time taxpayers are required to lodge an Income Tax Return, together with any Group Certificates received from their employer/s. Group Certificates indicate how much you have earned and the total amount of deductions made.
You need to lodge a tax return if you wish to claim tax that has been withheld from your earnings as an employee or from interest on your savings credited by a bank, credit union or building society. An assessment notice will be issued to you advising you of any additional tax you may have to pay or refund which you may be entitled to.
To lodge a taxation return, log onto the ATO website and click on 'Tax Returns'.
For more information about Tax File Numbers, contact the ATO:
Location: 1st Floor, Casselden Place, 2 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Tel: 132861 or visit the Australian Taxation Office website