The ATO has issued a warning to people with a Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) and/or Trade Support Loan (TSL) debt who are planning to move overseas for more than six months. Going forward, the ATO says that all such people must report their overseas contact details to them within seven days of leaving the country.

The new requirement is part of a crackdown announced last year on Australians who take out HELP and TSL loans to build their skills and then move overseas either temporarily or permanently. Often, as part of the move, they stop making repayments on their loans because they are no longer in the Australian tax net.

From 1 July 2017, anyone living overseas and earning above the minimum repayment threshold will be required to make loan repayments - just as they would if they were living in Australia.

The ATO advises that at a minimum, you must report your international residential and email addresses within the seven day window.  If you don’t yet have those details, you must provide the best contact address while you are away, for example your parents address, and then update your contact details when you are settled. Either way, the ATO wants to know where you are so they can correspond with you whilst you are overseas.

The new system of repayments doesn’t start until 1 July 2017 and at present there’s no word on how those affected will need to report their income and make repayments. So, at the moment, the only action required is to update your details and keep in mind that the change is coming. We’ll report more details as we get them.