International Students: Guide to Tax Returns in Australia

By H&R Block 4 min read

Chances are that if you've been studying in Australia for more than 6 months, you'll be a resident in Australia for tax purposes. This requires that you will pay tax on your Australian income at the same rate as other Australians, and will have access to the $18,200  tax-free threshold. You may also have to complete a tax return declaring your Australian income.

Do I need to lodge a tax return?

If you have earned  more than $18,200 you will need to lodge a tax return at the end of the financial year.

If you have earned less than this amount in the past financial year, and had no tax withheld, you might not need to lodge a tax return. If however, you did earn below this threshold and still paid tax, you should lodge a return as it is likely you will be eligible for a refund of the tax paid.  

If your circumstances are such that you don't need to lodge a return (that is, you earned less than $18,200 and had no tax withheld) you should provide a non-lodgement advice to the ATO. This notifies them that you won't be lodging and ensures that you don't get marked down as having an outstanding return, which can carry penalties.  

When do I need to lodge?

Personal tax returns can be lodged anytime from June 30. The deadline if you are lodging yourself is October 31. However, in instances where you have appointed a tax agent prior to this cut off date, the deadline is extended.  

How do I lodge a tax return?

There are two ways to lodge a tax return;

  1. yourself; using  H&R Block's DIY tax return program  or
  2. with a registered accountant, such as H&R Block

Using an accountant is always recommended as they will help ensure your return is accurate and contains all the deductions you are entitled to. Plus, you can claim the cost of the accountant in your following years tax return.  

Foreign income

If you are in Australia on a student visa, you will be regarded as a temporary resident by the ATO. This means that you are not required to declare your foreign income on your Australian tax return, and will not be taxed on it. You are required only to declare income that you derive in Australia, plus any income you earn from employment performed overseas for short periods while you are a temporary resident of Australia.  

What if I am here for less than 6 months?

If your enrolled course lasts less than 6 months, and you intend to leave Australia following its completion, you will probably be considered a non-resident for Australian tax purposes. You will still need to lodge a tax return declaring any Australian income you earned whilst here, but you won't be entitled to the tax-free threshold. As a result you will pay tax at the higher rates that are applied to non-residents.

Where can I find help?

If you need help or advice with anything tax related  find your nearest H&R Block office  or call 13 23 25 to book an appointment.  


April 2017


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