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Welcome to the “lucky country”! Australia is a great place to travel and there are lots of opportunities to work whilst you’re here. But you need to know that a working holiday isn’t automatically a tax holiday and, for new arrivals, the Australian tax system can be a minefield.
The bottom line is that travellers who earn income while in Australia are expected to pay tax on their earnings.
The tax system was changed for working holidaymakers from 1 January 2017.
From that date, if you are in the following working holiday maker visa subclass you will be affected by the new rules:
From 1 January 2017, you are taxed at 15% on the first $37,000 of income which you earn. If you earn more than this, you will pay tax at ordinary rates and won’t be eligible for the tax-free threshold.
You should be paid superannuation (super) by any employer you work for whilst in Australia. You can then apply for a refund of that super once you leave Australia, which is called a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment and is taxed at 65% (from 1 July 2017).
When you get a job in Australia, you should advise your employer that you are on either a 417 or 462 visa type so that they know to deduct tax at the special 15% rate.
Although your working holiday maker status means you’ll be taxed at special rates, you’ll also usually be regarded as non-resident for tax purposes.
If you are classified as a non-resident for tax purposes in Australia, you will be taxed only on income you earn in Australia. You also can't claim living expenses while in Australia as a ‘living away from home’ allowance or deduction against your taxable income.
In better news, you will be exempt from the 2% Medicare levy, which residents have to pay to cover basic medical costs. Tax is only paid on Australian income and interest on bank accounts is only taxed at 10%.
The Australian financial year ends on June 30, and tax returns should be lodged after that date. If your employer has not taken enough tax out whilst you were working in Australia, you’ll have to pay any amount still owing. But if your employer has paid too much tax on your behalf, then you'll get a refund.
To employ a working holiday maker in Australia on a visa subclass 417 or 462, you must:
Penalties may apply if you fail to register – and you should not employ, or pay someone for work, if they don’t have permission to work in Australia.
If you are a working holiday maker leaving the country before the end of the financial year, it is possible to lodge your tax return early but you will need to collect a "payment summary" from every employer and provide details of other income you’ve earned in Australia.
H&R Block can take the pain out of the process by preparing and lodging your tax return for you. Our friendly tax agents are very experienced and can also advise you exactly which deductions you’re entitled to and which you aren’t.
Our H&R Block accountants are now working online. Book an appointment with an expert.