• Overseas obligations

    The Australian Government has introduced changes relating to Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) and Trade Support Loan (TSL) repayment obligations. Under these changes, your first repayment against your HELP and TSL loan will commence from 1 July 2017 based on your worldwide income for the 2016/17 income year. Similarly to if you were living and working in Australia, if you live and work overseas and earn worldwide income that exceeds the minimum HELP and TSL repayment thresholds, you will be required to make repayments against your loan.

    The two main changes the Government introduced involve:

    • Updating your contact details if you have an intention to, or already reside overseas for 183 days or more in any 12 months.
    • Lodgement of your worldwide income or a non-lodgment advice.

    Your debt will continue to be indexed each year until it is paid. You can make additional voluntary repayments from overseas at any time to reduce the balance of your debt. These repayments will not reduce any compulsory repayment obligations you may have.

    See also:

    Updating your details

    You will need to notify us, within seven days of leaving Australia, if you intend to move overseas for 183 days or more in any 12-month period. This involves updating your contact details, including your international residential and email addresses, using our online services via myGov. You only need to update your details on ATO online services and not your myGov account.

    If you already live overseas, you will need to update your contact details no later than 1 July 2017. You must continue to update your contact details as long as you reside overseas through our online services via myGov.

    Update your details

    Accessing your myGov account from overseas

    Before you move overseas

    If you already have a myGov account and intend to move overseas, we recommend you log in to your account and turn off the myGov security code featureExternal Link before you lose access to your Australian mobile number. If you have access to your number overseas, you can keep this feature turned on.

    If you are already overseas

    If you already have a myGov account and you do not have access to your Australian mobile number, you will not be able to log in to your myGov account if the security code feature is turned on.

    If you have lost access to your myGov account overseas or do not have a myGov account, you can create a new account and link the ATO. When creating the account, make sure you skip the step to set up the security code feature as myGov does not accept international mobile numbers.

    Login or create a myGov account

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    Lodgment of your worldwide income

    If you are a non-resident for tax purposes with a HELP or TSL debt you will need to declare your worldwide income using our online services via myGov from 1 July 2017. You can engage an Australian tax agent to submit this on your behalf.

    Your worldwide income is any Australian and foreign sourced income. If this is above the minimum HELP and TSL repayment threshold, you will be required to make a compulsory repayment, known as an overseas levy. The overseas levy is calculated on HELP and TSL repayment rates and thresholds.

    If you are an Australian resident with a HELP or TSL debt, you need to declare your Australian income and include any exempt foreign-sourced income in your income tax return. If your repayment income is above the minimum repayment threshold, a compulsory repayment will be raised.

    If you are a non-resident for tax purposes with a HELP or TSL debt and your worldwide income is:

    • at or below $13,717 AUD for the 2016/17 income year, you will need to submit a non-lodgment advice through our online services via myGov.
    • above $13,717 AUD and below $54,869 AUD for the 2016/17 income year, you will need to declare your worldwide income to us through our online services via myGov. An overseas levy would not be raised, as you are below the minimum repayment threshold.
    • above the $54,869 AUD for the 2016/17 income year, you will need to submit your worldwide income to us through our online services via myGov. An overseas levy will be raised as your worldwide income exceeds the minimum repayment threshold and you will need to repay this amount.

    Non-lodgment advice

    If you did not earn more than $13,717 AUD for the 2016/17 income year you will need to submit a non-lodgment advice.

    A non-lodgement advice is a document lodged in lieu of a return. This document tells us that you will not be lodging a return as you are under the 25% minimum HELP and TSL repayment threshold, which is $13,717 AUD for the 2016/17 income year and have made a determination you have no requirement to report your worldwide income.

    Example:

    Harriet, who has a HELP debt from her undergraduate studies, moved to the United Kingdom to undertake her postgraduate degree. Harriet has been studying full-time and working casually as a tutor. For the 2016/17 income year, Harriet earned the equivalent of $10,500 AUD, which is below the 25% minimum HELP repayment threshold of $54,869. Harriet would lodge a non-lodgment advice through our online services via myGov.

    End of example

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    Converting your currency

    All foreign income, deductions and foreign tax paid must be converted to Australian dollars before being included in your return. The rate of conversion will be the average exchange rate for the Australian income year.

    We are updating our foreign currency conversion tool which will help convert your foreign currency. If you require a foreign exchange rate for a currency that is not listed within the conversion tool, you may use any reasonable externally sourced exchange rate for that currency, for example from a bank.

    Assessment methods for foreign-sourced income

    When declaring your worldwide income to us, you will have the option of choosing between three income assessment methods that can be used to calculate your foreign income. You can only choose one method to assess your foreign-sourced income for the income year. Your income details should be submitted to us by 31 October each year which is the due date for Australian income tax returns.

    Simple self-assessed method

    This method will require you to provide your gross amount of foreign income for the income year and state the occupation from which you derived most of your foreign- sourced income. A standardised deduction will be applied to reduce your foreign income based on your occupation. The standardised deduction is calculated on an average of deductions claimed for that occupation from the previous income year.

    Example:

    Anita has been living in New Zealand for two years, working as an occupational therapist. To calculate her foreign-sourced income Anita chooses the simple self-assessed method. Anita declares her total gross foreign income for the income year and reports her occupation. As part of the self-assessment method, a standardised deduction is then subtracted from her gross foreign income to work out her foreign-sourced income.

    End of example

    Overseas assessed method

    This method will allow you to enter the foreign income amount you were assessed for on your most recent income assessment from your foreign country of residence. The assessment must cover a 12-month period, even if you did not earn income for the whole 12 months.

    There are limitations to using this method. You cannot use this method if:

    • the period of the assessment does not overlap the relevant Australian income year (1 July–30 June); and/or
    • you received multiple assessments for the income year made by different foreign countries; and/or
    • you have previously used that income assessment to calculate your foreign income.

    Example:

    Lee is living overseas and working as a lawyer. In working out his foreign-sourced income for the 2016/17 income year Lee chooses the overseas assessed method. Lee has an overseas tax assessment for the period 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2017 (this overlaps the relevant Australian income year). Lee has not received any other income assessments from other countries and has not previously used his income assessment to calculate his foreign-sourced income.

    When using the overseas assessed method he reports his foreign income amount he was assessed for as shown on his foreign income assessment. Lee must convert this to Australian dollars as his foreign-sourced income.

    End of example

    Comprehensive tax-based assessment method

    This method will require you to declare your gross foreign income and enter allowable deductions similar to how you would complete an Australian income tax return. If the expense was for both work and private purposes, you can only claim a deduction for the work-related portion.

    Example:

    Nadia is small business owner in Canada. In working out her foreign-sourced income for the 2016/17 income year Nadia chooses the comprehensive tax based method. Nadia determines her gross foreign income from her salary and business income. Nadia then works out her allowable deductions which relates to her employment. Nadia’s allowable deductions are then subtracted from her gross foreign income to work out her foreign-sourced income.

    End of example

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    Contact us from overseas

    You can contact us for more information about the changes introduced to overseas HELP or TSL debt.

    ATO contacts:

    • When calling from overseas phone +61 2 6216 1111 between 8.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday (Australian Eastern Standard Time) except national public holidays
    • For overseas enquiries using the free translating and interpreting service (TIS) for people from non-English speaking backgrounds phone +61 3 9268 8332 between 8.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday (Australian Eastern Standard Time) except national public holidays

    See also:

    Last modified: 01 Mar 2017QC 47358