If you are arriving or planning to arrive in Australia, obtaining an Australian Tax File Number (TFN) is one of the first things you should do. This nine-digit number issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is a crucial identification tool for tax purposes. Without a TFN, you may have trouble accessing financial services or complying with Australian tax laws. In this article, we will discuss what a Tax File Number is, how to obtain one, and why it is essential for anyone living or working in Australia. 

What is the Australia tax file number?

An Australian Tax File Number (TFN) is a unique nine-digit number issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to individuals and entities for tax purposes. It’s a personal reference number that stays with you for life, even if you move overseas or change your name. Your TFN is an important piece of personal information, and it’s important to keep it safe and secure to avoid identity theft. You should only provide your TFN to trusted parties, such as your employer or the ATO. 

A TFN is required for most types of income in Australia, such as employment income, interest earned on savings, and investment income. It’s also required when applying for government benefits or lodging a tax return. 

Why do international students need a tax file number?

International students in Australia need a Tax File Number (TFN) for a number of reasons: 

  • To work legally in Australia:  

International students who wish to work in Australia need a TFN to be able to work legally and to avoid having a higher rate of tax deducted from their pay. When you start working in Australia, your employer will ask you for your TFN so that they can correctly withhold tax from your pay. If you don’t have a TFN, you can still work, but you will be taxed at a higher rate. 

  • To lodge a tax return:  

International students who earn income in Australia may be required to lodge a tax return at the end of financial year (in July). A TFN is required to do this and to ensure that their income is taxed correctly. 

  • To apply for a refund of tax withheld:  

If an international student has had too much tax withheld from their pay, they may be able to claim a refund from the Australian Taxation Office. To do this, they need a TFN. Please note that if you don’t have a TFN, you can’t claim your withdrawn tax and you will be charged with a higher tax than normal.   

  • To open a bank account:  

Australian banks require customers to provide a TFN when opening a bank account. This is to ensure that the correct amount of tax is withheld from any interest earned on the account. 

  • To contribute to your superannuation 

When working in Australia, your employer will pay for your superannuation which is a secure fund to support you with living allowance when you are over 65 years old. You must provide your TFN to register for a superannuation account.  

How to register an Australia tax file number?

It is easy and free to register for an Australian Tax File Number (TFN). You can follow the following steps: 

  1. Gather the necessary information: You will need your passport, visa details, and your contact details (including your address and phone number). 
  2. Go to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website: You can start the registration process on the ATO website by selecting the ‘Apply for a TFN’ option:  
  3. Complete the application: You will need to provide your personal and contact details, and answer some questions about your residency status in Australia. You may also need to provide additional documents, such as a birth certificate or proof of enrolment at an educational institution. 
  4. Submitting your application: Once you have filled out the application form, there are two ways to submit it. You can either submit it online or print it out and bring it to an Australia Post office. If you opt for the latter, you will need to book an interview and bring your original identification card (such as your passport) to the appointment. During the interview, the staff will verify your identity and assist you in signing your application.  
  5. Wait for your TFN: Once your application has been processed, the ATO will send your TFN via email and to the postal address you provided on the application form. This can take up to 28 days, but you should receive your TFN sooner if you applied online. 

What to do if you lose your Tax File Number?

If you lose your TFN, you can find it on any of the following documents: 

  • Your income tax notice of assessment 
  • Your payment summary or income statement 
  • Your superannuation statement 

If you can’t find your TFN on any of these documents, you can contact the ATO for assistance. They will ask you some questions to verify your identity and then provide you with your TFN. 

What to do if you change any personal details?

If your details have been changed, you must update your TFN registration details. The fastest way is to change them online.  

  1. Log in to your myGov account. If you don’t have a myGov account, you can create one on the myGov website. 
  2. Once you have logged in, select the ATO (Australian Taxation Office) from the list of government services. 
  3. On the ATO page, select “Profile” from the menu on the left-hand side of the screen. 
  4. Under “Profile,” select “Personal details.” 
  5. On the “Personal details” page, you can update your TFN registration details, including your name, date of birth, and contact details. 
  6. Once you have made your updates, select “Save” to confirm your changes. 

It’s important to keep your TFN registration details up to date, as this information is used by the ATO to identify you for tax purposes. If you have any questions or concerns about creating and updating your TFN registration details, you can contact the ATO at 13 28 65 for assistance.