Tax file numbers
What is a tax file number (TFN)
A tax file number is a unique nine-digit number the Australian Tax office (ATO) issues to you. Your TFN is yours for life, it’s part of your identity. Protect your TFN. It’s one of your most important forms of identification. Keep it safe to guard against identity theft.
Why do I need a tax file number?
When you start a job, you need to provide your TFN to your employer so the right amount of tax can be applied to your pay. You also need to make sure your super fund has your TFN.
Having a TFN is not compulsory but if you don’t have a TFN:
- Your employer must deduct tax from your pay at the highest rate.
- Financial institutions will tax interest you earn at the highest rate.
- The processing of your tax return will be delayed.
- It’s more difficult for the ATO to look up your personal tax records and discuss them with you.
- You may not be able to get government services or benefits.
- It will be harder for you to keep track of your super.
How do I apply for a tax file number?
- If you don’t already have a TFN, you can get an application form from the ATO or from Centrelink offices.
- If you’re a high school student, you can usually apply for a TFN through your school.
- If you’re migrating or are a temporary visitor (and you are allowed to work in Australia), you can apply for your TFN online at the ATO website.
What if I've lost or forgotten my TFN?
Your TFN is yours for life, even if you change jobs, move interstate or change your name. If you leave the country and come back to Australia, you still use the same TFN.
You can find your TFN on:
- your income tax notice of assessment
- any correspondence sent you by the ATO
- a payment summary – for example, from your employer
- your superannuation member statement.
- if you have a registered tax agent, you can ask them for your TFN.
If you still can’t find your TFN, you can contact the ATO. They will need to know that they are talking to the correct person before they can discuss your tax affairs, so will ask you for details only you or your authorised representative would know.
To contact ATO: phone 13 28 61 between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.
Australian taxation office
http://www.ato.gov.au/ >individual>tax file number
Lodging your tax return
Lodging your tax return
You lodge a tax return each year to inform the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) your annual income so they can work out how much tax is payable. Tax returns cover the financial year, which starts on July 1st and ends on 30th June.
They 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 to 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.
Do you need to lodge a tax return?
Most people need to lodge a tax return each year – but there are some exceptions. If you had any tax taken from any payment you received, you almost certainly need to lodge a tax return. If you need to lodge a tax return but don’t, you may have to pay a penalty.
Things you'll need
To complete your tax return you will need:
- Your tax file number
- Your PAYG payment summaries you have received from all employers you worked for in the financial year
- Centrelink Income Statement
- Records and receipts of claimable items you have kept during the year
If you’re using e-tax, you can download some of your information using the pre-filling service.
When to lodge a tax return
If you prepare your own tax return, you have until 31st October to lodge. If you use a registered tax agent, you can usually lodge later than this, but you need to register with them as a client before 31 October to qualify.
E-tax is the ATO’s free, fast and secure service you can use to prepare and lodge your individual tax return online. With e-tax, most refunds are issued within 12 business days.
If you already know the requirements for using e-tax, you can download the program from the ATO website.
Tax help program
If you want free help filling out your tax return and you are on a low income, ATO’s trained and accredited Tax Help volunteers may be able to help you.
Tax Help is a network of community volunteers who provide a free and confidential service to help people complete their tax returns at tax time. They are not ATO staff, but they receive training and support from the ATO. Volunteers are only able to help with fairly straightforward tax returns.
Tax Help is available in all capital cities and many country centres across Australia. In most places, the service is available from July to October.
Tax Help is for people on low incomes including, but not restricted to, those who are also seniors, students, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, people with a disability, Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders.
Lodging Tax-More information-Links
For more information on all aspects of Tax and superannuation or to down load e-tax go to
Why do we pay tax?
Tax is essential for our community. The government uses the money we pay in tax to invest back into the community. For example, the government uses our tax to build and maintain roads, parks and other public facilities.
Who has to pay tax?
Any person who earns an income has to pay tax. However, if that income is at or below $18,200 per year (in 2014), the individual does not have to pay tax.
Casual employee’s earnings can vary weekly, some weeks when you work more and earn a higher gross income, you will rise into the higher tax threshold and tax will be deducted, while other weeks you may work less and earn below the threshold so no tax will be deducted.
You will still need to do your tax return even if overall you earned under $18,200 in the financial year to get back the tax you paid.
What are the different taxation rates?
- Tax rates for the year 1 July 2012 to 1 July 2013
Taxable income Tax rate which applies to this income $1 – $18,200 Nil $18,201 – $37,000 19c for each $1 over $18,200 $37,001 – $80,000 $3,572 plus 32.5c for each $1 over $37,000 $80,001 – $180,000 $17,547 plus 37c for each $1 over $80,000 $180,001 and over $54,547 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,000
Why do we have different taxation rates?
We have different tax rates to make sure tax is fair. The more money you earn, the higher the rate of tax you have to pay.
For example, if you have a job and in the year 2012-13 you earn $12,000, you will pay no tax whatsoever; if you earn $20,000, you will pay:
Taxable income Tax rate which applies to this income How much tax you actually pay $1 – $18,200 Nil Nil $18,201 – $20,000 19c for each $1 over $18,200 $342
Income tax-More information-Links
Super-What is it?
Super is money for your future retirement. That seems a long way off now. But we don’t know what the future will hold or what government pensions will be available if any?
For most people, super begins when you start work and your employer starts paying super for you – these payments are known as super guarantee contributions or concessional contributions. Your employer must pay super into your super fund because the law says so.
Super funds invest your money in many things, such as shares, property and managed funds.
Compulsary employer contributions
Most people are entitled to compulsory super contributions from their employer. From 1 July 2013, these super guarantee contributions must be at least 9.25% of your ordinary earnings, up to the ‘maximum contribution base’.
You may also be entitled to choose the fund your super is paid into. You can check that your employer is paying the correct super and, if necessary, ask the ATO to look into it.
You can boost your super by making your own contributions and you may be eligible for government contributions.
Keeping track of your Super
If you’ve ever changed your name, address or job, you may have more than one super account or even have some lost super. Combining your super into one account will save you fees and makes it easier to keep track of your super.
The Australian Tax office has an online service called Superseeker, you can check your current super accounts that money has been paid into in the last two years and find lost or unclaimed super. Go to http://www.ato.gov.au/ >individuals>super
Accessing your Super benefits
You can access your super when you reach retirement age even if you haven’t retired. There are very limited circumstances where you can access your super savings early.
The tax treatment of super and death benefits depends on a number of factors, such as when and how the benefits are paid. They may have both taxable and tax-free components.
If you’re a temporary resident working in Australia, you can apply for your super when you leave.
Australian Taxation office. http://www.ato.gov.au/ >individuals>super