Essential Tax Guide for International Students in Australia: TFN, Tax Returns, and Superannuation Claims

Tax Guide for International Students
Are you an international student in Australia? Learn how to navigate the Australian tax system with our comprehensive tax guide. From obtaining a TFN to accessing Superannuation funds, we are here to offer you the essential information of tax in Australia.

We’ve assisted several international students at Brighton College and recognize the uncertainties you may face when beginning your studies and employment in Australia. Tax matters can be particularly challenging. We’ve compiled information gathered from the ATO website and advice from Torrens University to address the Tax Guide for International Students in Australia.

1/ About the Tax File Number (TFN)?

What is a Tax File Number (TFN)?

A Tax File Number (TFN) is a unique identifier issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to individuals for taxation and financial purposes. It is essential for international students studying in Australia to obtain a TFN to manage your taxes and finances effectively.

Do you need to have a TFN?

As an international student studying in Australia, it’s important to obtain a Tax File Number (TFN) for managing your finances.

Specifically, if you’re working for any business in Australia (onshore), you’ll need a TFN. Similarly, if you have a saving bank account that earns interest, you’ll be required to provide your TFN. It’s essential to keep your TFN secure and avoid from sharing it unless necessary, as it could be exploited for identity theft or fraud.

How to Obtain a Tax File Number (TFN) as an International Student?

There are 2 ways for you to get a TFN, the first way is applying towards from ATO website, and another way is using myGov ID login.

How to apply a TFN from ATO website:

  • Visit the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website and navigate to the TFN application section.
  • Complete the online TFN application form, providing accurate information about your personal details and residency status.
  • Prepare necessary identification documents, such as your passport and visa details.
  • Submit your application electronically through the ATO’s secure portal.
  • Wait for confirmation of your TFN, which will be sent to your Australian address within a few weeks, or your email address provided.

From using myGov:

  • Create or Log in to Your myGov Account: If you don’t have a myGov account yet, you’ll need to create one. Visit the myGov website and follow the prompts to set up your account. If you already have a myGov account, simply log in using your username and password.
  • Link the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Service: Once logged in to your myGov account, you’ll need to link the ATO service. To do this, go to the “Services” section and select “Australian Taxation Office.” Follow the instructions to link your myGov account to the ATO.
  • Access the TFN Application Form: After linking the ATO service, you’ll be able to access the TFN application form.
  • Complete the TFN Application Form: Fill out the TFN application form with accurate information about your personal details and residency status. You’ll need to provide details such as your full name, date of birth, address, and contact information.
  • Submit Your Application: submit your application electronically through your myGov account.
  • Keep track and receive your TFN: Once your TFN application is processed and approved, you’ll receive a TFN confirmation letter via mail.

2/ Understanding Tax Returns for International Students in Australia.

What is the tax return?

A tax return is a document filed with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) that reports your income, deductions, and other relevant information for a specific financial year (July 1st to June 30th).

How to Lodge Your Tax Return:

  • Gather Income Documents: Collect payment summaries, bank statements, and any other income-related documents.
  • Access ATO Portal: Log in to the ATO’s online lodgment portal or use tax software for non-residents, or you can get support from the accounting agencies to complete following steps for you.
  • Complete the Form: Fill out the tax return form accurately, including income details, deductions, and offsets.
  • Submit the Return: Electronically submit your tax return to the ATO before the deadline, usually October 31st.

Key Considerations for International Students:

Tax Residency: Determine your tax residency status in Australia, as it affects your tax obligations and eligibility for certain deductions and offsets.

Tax File Number (TFN): Ensure you have a TFN, as it’s required for lodging tax returns and conducting tax-related transactions.

Work-related Expenses: Keep records of work-related expenses, such as textbooks, uniforms, and travel costs, as they may be deductible.

Scholarship Income: Report any income received from scholarships or grants, as it’s considered taxable income in Australia.

Superannuation: Understand your Superannuation obligations and consider seeking advice on accessing or consolidating your Superannuation funds.

Tax Return Calculation: You can reference how much tax return you can get back from your last financial year via ATO Tax calculator.

3/ Explaining Superannuation for International Students

What is Superannuation?

Superannuation, often referred to as “Super,” is a compulsory retirement savings system in Australia. It is designed to provide income in retirement and is funded by contributions from employers and employees.

Contributions: Employers are required to contribute a percentage of an employee’s earnings to their Superannuation fund. International students working in Australia may also contribute to their Super fund voluntarily.

Key Considerations for International Students:

Choosing a Super Fund: International students may have the option to choose their Superannuation fund. It’s essential to compare funds based on factors such as fees, investment options, and performance.

Accessing Superannuation: Generally, Superannuation can only be accessed once you reach preservation age and meet certain conditions of release, such as retirement or permanent disability.

Consolidating Superannuation: If you have multiple Super accounts, consider consolidating them to save on fees and manage your retirement savings more efficiently.

Taxation: Superannuation contributions and earnings are generally taxed at concessional rates. However, it’s essential to be aware of any tax implications when accessing your Super.

How to Claim Funds in Your Superannuation Account?

Accessing your Superannuation funds requires careful consideration. Here’s how to claim them:

  • Check your eligibility to access Superannuation.
  • Choose the appropriate release option (e.g., retirement, compassionate grounds, financial hardship).
  • Complete the required forms or apply online through myGov.
  • Provide supporting documentation if necessary.
  • Await approval and disbursement of funds.


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