How to apply for a Tax File Number

Father paying taxes online Source: Blend Images

Before you start working in Australia, you need to get a Tax File Number.

A Tax File Number (TFN) is a number that is unique to each person in Australia. It connects their earnings, superannuation and taxation to them. It’s assigned by the Taxation Commissioner.

A TFN is an important piece of personal identification, which should not be lost or shared around.

 “Once you get a Tax File Number, that’s yours for your working life or for the time that you’re here working. So you get one for your life. For every employer that you might have, you give them your Tax File Number and they will report tax that has to be paid on your behalf to the Australian Tax Office,” explains Stephanie Ceredes, from the Tax Institute.

A businesswoman using laptop at office desk
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How to get a TFN

If you’re a foreign passport holder, a permanent migrant or a temporary visitor, you can apply online. “It’s very straightforward. The Taxation Office will cross check your information with the date from the Immigration Office showing that you are in Australia, so it’s quite easy,” explains Gunnar Kaebisch, a manager with BDO, one of Australia’s largest accounting and taxation firms.

If you’re an Australian resident or citizen, you can apply for your TFN at certain Australia Post outlets, at Centrelink centres or by post. You’ll first need to complete a form and you’ll also need to make certified copies of the identification documents mentioned on the form.

There is no fee for lodging a TFN application. You’ll receive your TFN by mail in the following 28 days.

If you start your own business, you’ll also need a TFN for it.

A salesperson cutting cheese in a store
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What happens if you don’t get a TFN

If you don’t provide a TFN to your employer, you’ll have to pay more taxes than necessary.

“If you don’t supply one to your employer, for example, he would legally be required to withhold tax on the payment to be made to you at the highest tax rate, which is 47 per cent. You probably don’t want that so you’d be well advised to have a Tax File Number,” says Kaebisch.

Stay consistent

It’s important to keep writing your name the same way as on your original application. If you change the spelling of your name or add a middle name, it might cause problems with the Australian Taxation Office or the bank.

For more information, visit the Australian Taxation Office’s website. You can also access the website in different languages.


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