Australia

Australian expats warned on student debts

The tax office is warning Australian expats that moving overseas doesn't allow them to avoid study debts.

Australians living overseas have been warned moving away doesn't let them dodge student loans, with the tax office planning a crackdown.

The Australian Tax Office announced on Tuesday it would contact people with student debt who leave or are already overseas in the coming months.

ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat said it was easy to get caught up in the excitement of moving overseas and forget about repayment obligations.

"Moving overseas does not cancel student loan debts and your repayment obligations do not change with your address. Current laws give us the power to pursue these debts overseas," she said.

Expats with Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), Vocational Education & Training student loan (VSL) and Trade Support Loan (TSL) debts can expect to be contacted.

Ms Foat said it took an average of nine years for people to pay off HELP debts.

"But for Australians who travel overseas and don't make any repayments, it takes significantly longer," she said.

Under new rules, Australians with an income contingent loan travelling overseas need to notify the ATO of their new address and lodge an overseas travel notification.

From July 1, anybody earning over $45,881 a year had to start repaying their student loans after the government passed laws cutting the threshold from $55,000.

"Expats should know that once their income reaches the new threshold of $45,881 for 2019/20, they need to be making repayments, just like anyone living in Australia," Ms Foat said.

As at 31 January, there are over 3.2 million Australians with outstanding student loan debts totalling more than $66 billion.

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