Studying and student debt
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Like all other Australians, students pay tax on their income once it exceeds a certain amount (the tax-free threshold) so the government can provide services to the community. These services range from hospitals, schools and roads to recycling centres, national parks and even your local swimming pool.
There are three levels of government in Australia – local council, state government and the Australian Government.
Each level of government is responsible for different activities and each collects different taxes.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to claim deductions or offsets to reduce the amount of tax you have to pay. If you have a student or HELP (Higher education loan program) loan and your income exceeds the repayment threshold you will have to start paying your loan back.
Most people are entitled to compulsory superannuation (Super) contributions from their employer. Super is money set aside over your lifetime to provide for your retirement. You may also be entitled to choose the fund your super is paid into.
Overseas students who are studying in Australia may also need to pay tax on income they earn in Australia.
For more information on why and how we pay tax, see Income and deductions.
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We work out the amount of tax you are due to pay when you lodge your income tax return. You must declare all income from employment, government payments and any other sources on your tax return. There are special tax rules if you are under the age of 18.
Deductions reduce your taxable income and offsets reduce the amount of tax that you have to pay. If your study directly relates to your current income you may be eligible for a deduction for some of your education expenses.
Super is money set aside over your lifetime to provide for your retirement. For most people, super begins when you start work and your employer starts paying super for you - these payments are known as super guarantee contributions or concessional contributions. Most people can choose the super fund they want their employer contributions paid into. If you're eligible to choose a fund, your employer must give you a Standard choice form so you can make that choice in writing.
You have to start repaying a HELP (Higher education loan program) or SFSS (Student Financial Supplement Scheme) debt when your annual income passes the repayment threshold.
Generally, if you’re an overseas student enrolled at an Australian institution in a course that is more than six months long, we regard you as an Australian resident for tax purposes. You pay tax on your earnings at the same rate as other residents. If you're an eligible temporary resident working in Australia, your employer has to make super guarantee contributions for you. You may be paid your super money once you have left Australia.
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