Getting Your Tax Refund in Australia:
It has probably been one of the most disheartening feelings you’ve experienced since you’ve been in Oz. Every week, after slaving away fruit picking in the hot sun or trying to sell people death insurance over the phone, you get a payslip advising you that the good old Aussie government has swiped 29 per cent of your earnings as tax. Well, there comes a time when you can try and claim back some of your hard earned cash.
The tax year here runs from 1st July until 30th June. So come the 30th June you can start to claim back your tax. You can also lodge and early tax return when you have stopped working in Australia and are leaving the country.
There are two ways that you can go about getting your traveller or backpacker tax returns.
1. Fill in the forms yourself, trying to claim tax deductions wherever possible and hope to God you don’t get a bill telling you that you owe money, or;
2. Get a private company to do it for you.
Our advice to you is to get a private company to do it because it is easy to get it wrong and having a private company fix it (an amended return) usually costs more than if they did it to start with. The amount you get back also depends on how long you’ve been in Australia, your intentions and where you lived.
Some important things to ask when looking for a private company to do your tax:
• Ask if they are a registered tax agent and preferably a Chartered Accountant or CPA.
• Ask if they will provide you with a Notice of Assessment from the Australian Taxation Office so you can see exactly how much tax you got back and how much they charged you.
• Ask if they use a Trust Account when your tax refund comes back, and don’t put the money into a normal bank account where they earn interest.
Either way you will need to contact all the employers you’ve had in Oz and ask them for a PAYG summary (Group Certificate) or keep your final payslips. On it will be your gross earnings and the amount of tax that you paid to them.
You can claim work expenses as tax deductions, like uniform, washing your uniform, using your own phone, your own car. Basically anything to do with work, you can claim that back. If the amount of your expenses is under $300 you don’t need to supply your receipts but, if it is over that, you will need them.
Seeing as it’s unlikely you will be staying in Australia long enough to be able to claim your superannuation (pension) at the ripe old age of 65, you have the right to claim it back once you leave Oz. An important suggestion here, only use one superfund. Keep your member number close at hand and provide it to your employer for each job you have. You are legally able to choose your own fund.
By law, as long as you earned over $450 per month, your employers were obliged to contribute 9 per cent of your regular earnings into a super fund on your behalf. If you were clever and forward-thinking you will have made a note of all the super funds you were a member of. Chances are, as a traveller, you didn’t. It’s worth contacting your past employers and asking them where they paid your super if you can, otherwise you may have to kiss that cash goodbye as there are thousands of super funds out there.
If you know which funds to apply to, you are eligible to claim your super back once you have left Australia and your visa has expired (12 months from when you first arrived). You can then send your Superfund a withdrawal form, check with them which one they use, as well as copies of your passport, visa, arrival and departure stamp and they will send you your money. Due to the fact that super is a pension and you are taking it out early, added to the fact that every super fund charges you money when you enter the fund, exit it and every month you are a member, you normally only get around 50% of your money back.
Claiming your super back is a very difficult and time consuming process which doesn’t always result in you actually getting it back. We highly recommend you use a private company to do this for you.
This Advice has been provided by Backpackers Buddy. Tax Agent No: 57819000, Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors for over 20 years. Phone 1300 551 412 or visit www.backpackersbuddy.com.au for more advice.