If you have been studying in Australia for longer than six months, you will be required to lodge an Australian tax return as international student. This means you will pay tax on your earnings in Australia at the same rate as Australian residents, and are entitled to the tax-free threshold ($18, 200).

Unsure whether you will need to lodge an Australian tax return as an international student? Here is a quick guide.

  • If you earn more than the tax-free threshold you will need to lodge a return at the end of the financial year, June 30.
  • If you earned less than the tax-free threshold, and have paid tax during this period you will still need to lodge a tax return.
  • If you have earned less than the tax-free threshold and have not paid tax you will need to provide a non-lodgement to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to avoid receiving a penalty for an outstanding tax return.

Australian tax return tax time

How to lodge a tax return

First, you will be required to apply for a tax file number (TFN). This is a requirement for your Australian tax return and you will not be able to lodge without one. You can apply online, and if you have been working part time on your student visa, your employer would have asked you to complete a Tax File Number Declaration form before you commenced work. Tax is deducted automatically from your pay, with the amount dependent on your earnings.

You can lodge your tax by either submitting your return online through MyTax, a quick, safe and straightforward way to lodge your return online. If you require further assistance lodging your tax return you can enlist the services of a tax agent or registered accountant. Using an accountant is recommended as they will check your return is accurate and that you are claiming all your entitled tax reductions.

What you need to lodge a tax return?

Tax Return Checklist

  • Tax File Number
  • Bank details (BSB and account number) to receive your tax refund (if owed)
  • Payment summaries (PAYG) from employers, super funds, Centrelink
  • Statements from banks and financial institutions showing interest payments
  • Receipts for gifts, donations ad work-related expenses
  • Employment termination payment summaries

Note: If you have a spouse, you will need to provide their income and expenses in addition to completing an income test to get your entitlements right on your tax return.

When do you need to lodge your tax by?

The deadline for lodging your tax return in Australia can vary, depending on whether you are lodging the return yourself or using the services of an appointed tax agent. If you are doing the lodgement yourself, the last day to send through your return is October 31st. However, if you have chosen to go with an accountant or similar tax agent, the deadline is extended.

Do you have foreign income?

If you are on a student visa in Australia you will be required to declare income you have earned whilst studying here. You will only need to declare foreign income you have earned from employment overseas during the time you are a temporary resident in Australia.

  • Don’t declare income earned working during the school holidays before you came to Australia to study.
  • Declare income earned working in Australia and overseas since coming to Australia to study.

What if you are in Australia for less than six months?

If you are currently studying with a course duration of less than six months and intend to leave after completion, you will be considered a non-resident by the ATO. This means you will still need to pay tax, however will not be entitled to the tax-free threshold resulting in higher tax rates.