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  • Employers of Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme workers

    The Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) were merged to form the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme on 4 April 2022. It is administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

    You can continue to apply the SWP or PLS rules to workers you employ who:

    • were issued their visa for the SWP or PLS before 4 April 2022
    • remain on those schemes for the duration of their visas.

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    Approved employer

    You can apply to be an approved employer under the PALM scheme by undergoing the PALM approved employer assessment process via DFAT.

    Some employers will continue to be approved employers under the PALM scheme via an existing SWP deed of agreement with DFAT.

    Tax file number

    Once PALM workers have entered Australia, they can apply for a tax file number (TFN) using their passport and visa details. They will need to provide you with their TFN so that it can be given to their super fund. However, it is not compulsory for PALM workers to complete a Tax file number declaration.

    Withholding rate

    You must withhold tax at a flat rate of 15% on all payments made to PALM workers if:

    • the worker is a foreign resident of Australia for tax purposes
    • you are an approved employer under the existing SWP deed of agreement.

    If you are not an approved employer under the SWP deed of agreement, then you must withhold tax at foreign resident rates.

    Use our Tax tables under Regular payments to work out how much to withhold from payments you make to your employees.

    We are aware of proposed changes to taxation arrangements for the PALM scheme, however these changes have not been passed by Parliament. This information will be updated as any new tax arrangements for approved employers under the PALM scheme are legislated.

    Reporting

    You must provide payment summaries (or income statements if reporting under Single Touch Payroll) to PALM workers if you have withheld tax from payments. Foreign resident PALM workers are not required to lodge tax returns unless they have other Australian income outside of the program. PALM workers should not include their income from the PALM scheme in their tax returns.

    At the end of each financial year, you will need to include these payment summaries, and any others that you have issued, when you lodge your pay as you go (PAYG) withholding payment summary annual report.

    If you report under Single Touch Payroll (STP), the income statements will need to be included for PALM workers, along with all your other employees.

    Incorrect amounts withheld

    If you realise you mistakenly withheld more than 15% from payments made to a foreign resident PALM worker within the same financial year, you can refund the tax to them.

    If you have already paid the tax withheld amount to us and lodged an activity statement, revise your activity statement to receive a refund.

    If you find out about the mistake after the end of the financial year, the worker must request a refund from us.

      Last modified: 12 Apr 2022QC 69195