Information for all your tax needs.


How do I obtain a Tax File Number?

There are three ways in which to obtain a Tax File Number, depending on whether you are:

  • A secondary school student
  • An Australian citizen (or a resident without work rights) who is not at school
  • An overseas visitor or student and you have a visa permitting you to work.

To get a Tax File Number you need to provide evidence of your identity to the tax office. The documents proving your identity must be unaltered originals. When you collect your Tax File Number application from Tax Matters on the back you will find a list of acceptable identity documents.

How do Secondary School students obtain a Tax File Number?

Tax Matters encourages all secondary school students to call our office so that may help you obtain your tax file and help get you in to good habits early.

Prior to attending the offices of Tax Matters to obtain your Tax File Number, be sure to bring you with you:

  • Australian birth certificate
  • Australian citizenship, or
  • Overseas passport
What is Income?

As Australia’s tax system is heavily reliant on personal income tax, it is important to understand what the tax office means when using the term ‘income’.

You can receive income as a result of personal exertion (this means by working) or from an investment. Income may NOT always be in the form of money – in some situations goods & services may be treated as income.

If you receive a gift or win a prize, these are not usually treated as income.

The three most common classifications of income are:

  • Assessable
  • Exempt
  • Taxable

Assessable income – is income that can be taxed, provided you earn enough to exceed your tax-free threshold. Some types of assessable income are:

  • Salary and wages
  • Interest from bank accounts
  • Dividends and other income from investments
  • Bonuses and overtime
  • Commissions
  • Pensions
  • Rent

Exempt Income – is income that cannot be taxed. Some examples would be:

  • Some government pensions and payments, including the invalid pension
  • Some education payments

Taxable Income – is the income you receive during a financial year that you have to pay tax on. It is a term that is used for income that is left over after you have deducted all the expenses you are allowed from your assessable income.

Call 03 9416 1679 for any questions regarding income types.

What are deductions?

When you spend money to directly help you earn your income, you may be entitled to claim that cost as a tax deduction. Tax deductions reduce the amount of income you have to pay income on. Deductions are based on the particular circumstances of the individual and the industry involved.

Deductions must be applied to the amount of income you pay tax on and are NOT applied to the amount of your tax-withheld amount.

Call 03 9416 1679 for any clarification on deductions.

How does the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) work?

From January 1, 2005 the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) was introduced, replacing the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS). HELP comprises of the following three schemes:

  • HECS-HELP – for eligible students enrolled in Commonwealth supported places. A HECS-HELP loan will cover all or part of their student contribution.
  • FEE-HELP – for eligible fee-paying students enrolled at an eligible higher education provider or Open Universities Australia. FEE-HELP provides students with a loan to cover up to the full amount of their tuition fees to a maximum of $50,950,00, over their lifetime (last indexed 2006).
  • OS-HELP for eligible Commonwealth supported students who wish to study overseas. OS-HELP provided students with a cash loan to cover expenses such as accommodation and travel.

Call 03 9416 1679 for any further clarification regarding HELP.

How do I treat the $900 stimulus payment, when I do my tax?

The $900 is not taxable income and therefore will not need to be declared on your tax return.

I have NOT lodged a tax return for several years, what do I do?

You have an obligation to lodge your tax return annually. Call Tax Matters on 03 9416 1679 immediately to complete and lodge your tax returns. This must be done before the tax office commences action to have you lodge your tax returns.

The tax office may charge you $110 for every 28 days that the return is outstanding. The maximum penalty is $550. The tax office will charge interest on any outstanding tax payable.

My mother/father has died. Does a final tax return need to be completed?

Yes. A tax return needs to be completed to the date of death, if a tax return had been lodged in previous years.

I have taken on a second job, how will this impact my personal tax position?

The tax-free threshold can only be claimed from one employer at a time. The best suggestion would be to claim it from your main employer. This will make you pay more tax on your second job, but will make sure the correct tax is paid on your overall wages. This means no nasty surprises at the end of the financial year (like additional tax).

I am missing a PAYG summary. What now?

You can proceed to complete your tax return without your PAYG summary, by using a copy of your employers PAYG payment summary. The other options would be to obtain a letter from your employer outlining your income details or reviewing your pay slips for that period.

If all of the above prove difficult, then a Statutory Declaration would need to be provided.

My out of pocket medical expenses are quite high?

A net medical expenses offset is available when you and your dependants have incurred out of pocket medical expenses over $1,500. Expenses can include, doctors’ fees, hospital stays and medicines.

It is important you understand all of your rights in relation to this topic as several procedures (like cosmetic) are expensive, but can not be included in the calculation of any off set.

Call 03 9416 1679 for further information.

What happens when I turn 55?

A mature age workers offset for the tax year in which you are to turn 55 and for and future years that you are working, may be available. The maximum offset is $500 and you may be entitled to this maximum amount if your net income from working is between $10,000and $53,000net. You may still get a reduced offset if your income from working does not exceed $63,000 net. Income derived from investments only, does not allow you to claim any offset.

How do other Australians and residents without work rights and individuals living in remote areas or individuals in Australia on a visa with work rights obtain a Tax File Number?

If you fall into this category, please call Tax Matters on 03 9416 1679.

Usually once an application for a Tax File Number is made, a period of up to 28 days may lapse prior to your Tax File Number arriving.

Do I need to lodge a tax return?

If you are born in Australia and live in Australia then you are a resident for tax purposes. It is also very possible for you not to be living in Australia but still be a resident for tax purposes.

If you are away from Australia for an extended period of time for example 18 months or more but you still maintain your bank accounts, cars property you may still be a resident for tax purposes. Your connection to Australia is still what may make you a resident for tax purposes.

If you have arrived in Australia and intend to stay for the foreseeable future and in the meantime you have set up connections with Australia, then you may be considered a resident for tax purposes.

Residency for tax purposes can be difficult to establish in some instances.

Australian residents for tax purposes must declare income earned from anywhere in the world in their tax returns. Non-residents only need to declare income earned in Australia.

If you are an Australian resident for tax purposes you:

  • Are entitled to the tax free threshold
  • Can claim tax offsets
  • Generally you have a lower tax rate then non residents

If you are a non-resident for tax purposes you:

  • You have a tax free threshold of $1.00
  • Cannot claim most tax offsets
  • Do not pay a Medicare levy

Call Tax Matters to assist you with working out your residency for tax purposes.

When do I lodge my annual tax return?

Tax returns cover the financial year, not the calendar year .The financial year begins 1st of July and ends on the 30th of June the following year.

You have from July 1 to 31st of October to lodge your tax return. In some circumstances you can lodge your tax return before the end of the financial year.

Call Tax Matters to make a time to pay complete your tax return. Tax returns lodged late may incur a fine.

When do I have to pay my tax bill by?

If you have a tax debt the earliest you will have to pay is by the 21st of November.

If I cannot pay my tax bill by the due date, what do I do?

Call Tax Matters immediately!

What is the tax-free threshold?

If your total income for the year is in the lowest income / tax bracket, you pay no tax. Once you move out of the lowest tax bracket and in to the next one, you have crossed the threshold from paying no tax to paying at least the very least tax.

So, when your taxable income exceeds your tax-free threshold you pay tax on the excess.

Call Tax Matters to help you with your the tax free threshold questions.

What is a Medicare levy?

Medicare is the scheme that gives Australian residents access to health care. To help fund this scheme, resident taxpayers pay a Medicare levy. The amount of levy that is paid depends on the level of income earned and is above and beyond the income tax. The Medicare levy is not reduced by any tax offsets unless they are refundable offsets.

At this time, your Medicare levy is based on 1.5% of your taxable income. This rate can and will vary based on various circumstances. In certain circumstances the levy can may reduced or you may even be exempt. A threshold amount below which you don’t pay the Medicare levy exists.

Individuals and families on higher incomes who not have private health insurance, may have to pay an additional surcharge. The surcharge is in addition to the Medicare levy and is calculated at the rate of 1% of tour taxable income. The Medicare levy is withheld from your pay by your employer along with the tax you need to pay.

People who are not Australian residents for tax purposes do not pay the Medicare levy, as they are not entitled to Medicare benefits

Call Tax Matters to help you with any questions about the Medicare levy or to calculate your Medicare levy.

Tax Offsets – What are they?

Tax Offsets directly reduce the amount of tax you have to pay. They are different from deductions, which reduce your total assessable income and therefore your tax by your marginal tax rate. Each dollar of tax offset reduces your tax payable by a dollar, regardless of your taxable income. As a general rule, offsets can reduce your tax payable to zero but on their own cannot get you a refund. Tax Offsets cannot be used to reduce any Medicare levy you need to pay.

There are special tax offsets known as refundable tax offsets that can be used to pay your Medicare levy and you can even get a refund from them.

In short, Tax Offsets are used to:

  • Introduce fairness in the way people in different circumstances are taxed, and
  • Encourage people to do some things the government would like them to do.

Tax Offsets were once known as “rebates”.

How do I know what is fair?

It could be considered unfair that a person supporting a family or other dependants should pay the same tax as a single person on the same income. To compensate people with dependants for the greater responsibilities they have, various tax offsets may be available to them so they pay less tax, for instance the spouse tax offset and the parent tax offset.

How do Tax Offsets work?

If the government wants to encourage people to do something, they may offer a tax offset. For example, the government encouraged people to take out private health insurance to reduce pressure on the public health system by offering a refundable tax offset.

Call Tax Matters to assist you in establishing your tax offsets.

What is a Tax File Number?

Tax File Numbers are issue by the Australian Tax Office. A Tax File Number is used to identify your tax records. Everyone has a different Tax File Number. Your Tax File Number is issued for life, even if you change jobs, move interstate or change your name. If you leave Australia and later come back, you will still use the same Tax File Number.

When you make enquiries about your tax matters, the Tax Office will ask for your Tax File Number. To protect you other questions will be asked of you to check your identity.

Your Tax File Number is very important and valuable. It is not to be shared nor should you provide it over the internet, when applying for jobs.

Do I need a Tax File Number?

It is not compulsory to have a Tax File Number however, without a Tax File Number:

  • Your employer must take 45% of your wages in tax.
  • Financial institutions are required to tax your interest at 46.5%.
  • Centrelink will generally not pay you your Youth Allowance, Newstart or Auststudy.
  • You will be unable to defer your higher education fees.
  • Your tax return and / or Australian Business Number application will take longer to process, and
  • It is more difficult for the tax office to look up and discuss your tax matters.
What is a Tax File Number declaration?

Tax File Number declaration form is a document you use to declare your Tax File Number.

You must complete a Tax File Number declaration form when you:

  • Start work for the first time.
  • Change jobs, or
  • Apply for certain benefits or allowances from Centrelink.

Your employer should provide you with the declaration. If they do not call Tax Matters on 03 9416 1679 and will provide the form.

The first question on the declaration form is asking for your Tax File Number. You have 28 days from when you start your new job to give your Tax File Number to your employer. If you do not, your employer must by law withhold tax at the highest rate plus the Medicare levy.

If you have applied for a Tax File Number but have not received it, print X in the relevant box in question 1.

The remaining questions on the tax file declaration form cover your personal details and information that may determine how much tax you pay.

Please remember: The Tax File Number declaration form is not an application for a Tax File Number.

If you do not have a Tax File Number you can apply for one at any time.

Who can ask you for your Tax File Number?

Only certain people and organisations you for your Tax File Number, the most common are:

  • The tax office
  • Your bank or other financial institutions
  • Centrelink
  • Your university
  • Your super fund

Be aware: You do not have to give your Tax File Number to any of the above but there may be consequences, if you choose not to.

If you are asked for your Tax File Number you have the right to be told:

  • What the legal basis is for that organisation asking for it.
  • That you are not committing an offence if you do not provide it, and
  • What will happen if you do not provide it.
How can I secure my Tax File Number?

Keep your Tax File Number and other personal details like your bank account passwords by:

  • Not carrying them in you purse, wallet or mobile phone.
  • Shredding documents containing identity details before disposing of them.
  • Installing up to date anti virus software on your computer
  • Only providing your identity details to trusted, reliable organisations, and
  • Making sure that if you use a registered tax agent to lodge your tax return, that the agent is registered by checking with the tax agents board.

If you believe that someone other then you has used your Tax File Number contact the tax office.

Call Tax Matters for any assistance on the topic of Tax File Numbers. Tax Matters is a registered tax agent.

Feel free to contact us at anytime.