How residency affects your tax return

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If you remain an Australian resident

You will generally remain an Australian resident for tax purposes if:

  • you're overseas temporarily and you don't set up a permanent home in another country
  • you work overseas.

You must lodge an Australian tax return and declare your worldwide income – both assessable income and exempt foreign employment income – even if tax was taken out in the country where you earned the income.

To understand your tax situation, you first need to work out if you are an Australian or foreign resident for tax purposes. Use our calculators to:

If you become a foreign resident

You will need to lodge a tax return only if you have Australian income, including:

  • employment income
  • rental income
  • Australian pensions and annuities, unless an exemption is available under Australian tax law or a tax treaty
  • capital gains on Australian assets.

You can ignore any income from which non-resident withholding tax has been deducted, such as bank interest and unfranked dividends.

If you are leaving Australia permanently you will become a foreign resident.

If your residency status changes

If your status has changed from resident to foreign resident during the income year, answer 'yes' to the question 'Are you an Australian resident?' on your tax return.

This ensures you are taxed at resident rates for the income year. You are entitled to a pro-rata tax-free threshold for the number of months you are an Australian resident.

To claim a tax offset for a dependent spouse, you must both be Australian residents for tax purposes. You will need to reduce your claim to take into account the period you were both foreign residents.

Foreign residents do not have to pay the Medicare levy. In your tax return you can claim the number of days in the income year that you are not an Australian resident as exempt days.

From the date you cease to be an Australian resident, there is no need to show your foreign-source income in your tax return. Also, all Australian-sourced interest, dividends and royalties you received after you ceased to be an Australian resident are subject to the withholding tax provisions as a final tax. They should not be included in your tax return.

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Last modified: 30 May 2015QC 33216