Welcome to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website. Our role is to manage the tax and superannuation (super) systems.
The ATO is the Australian Government's main revenue collection agency. Taxes pay for services and infrastructure, such as public health and transport. This benefits all Australians.
We want to make tax and super as easy as possible.
On our website you'll find information about:
- how the tax and super systems work in Australia
- studying (for overseas students)
- getting a tax file number (TFN) and starting your first job
- tax and super for people starting their own business
- lodging your first tax return
- growing and keeping track of your super for your retirement.
See our glossary of common tax and super terms.
If you don't understand this information, you can talk to a tax agent or contact us.
What is tax?
Tax is the money we collect on behalf of the government. You may need to pay tax if you get income from:
- a job
- Centrelink allowances and payments
- running a business
- other sources (like bank interest).
Why we pay tax
The money we collect pays for services such as:
- roads and railways
- social security and other payments from Centrelink.
How do I pay tax?
If you work for an employer, they will take tax from your wage or salary and give it to us.
If you have other income, such as business income or bank interest, you may have to pay the tax to us. If you need help you can contact us or a registered tax agent.
Most people need to lodge a tax return each year to tell us how much:
- income they earned
- tax they paid.
We use this information to work out if you have paid the correct amount of tax for the year.
If you are studying in Australia for six months or more, you may be considered a resident for tax purposes (tax residency). This is different to being a resident for migration purposes.
Being a resident for tax purposes means:
- your income tax rate is the same as Australian residents. This is generally lower than the tax rate for foreign residents.
- you are entitled to the benefits of the Australian tax system, such as
- the tax-free threshold
- tax offsets.
Before you start working
Get a tax file number
Your tax file number (TFN) is your personal reference number for our tax system. You should apply for your TFN before you start work or soon after. If you do not have a TFN to give to your employer, you will pay more tax.
It is free to get a TFN.
You keep the same TFN for your whole life, even if you change your name, or move interstate or go overseas.
Don't let anyone else use your TFN – not even friends or relatives.
Never give your TFN in a job application or over the internet. You should only give your TFN to your employer after you start working for them.
When you start working
Complete a tax file number declaration
Your employer will ask you to fill out a Tax file number declaration form to tell them your personal information and your TFN.
Your employer uses this declaration to work out how much tax you need to pay.
You have 28 days to provide the declaration to your employer. If you don't, they will have to take out more tax from your pay.
How much tax you will pay
Your employer will deduct tax from your pay and send it to us. This is called 'pay as you go withholding'.
The amount of tax you pay depends on:
- whether you are an Australian resident for tax purposes
- how much income you earn
- whether you have a tax file number (TFN).
Superannuation, or 'super', is a part of your income that your employer pays into a super fund. Your super builds up over your working life. You use your super money to live on when you retire from work.
Find out more
Some employers prefer to pay you in cash instead of into your bank account. This is okay if they:
- take the right amount of tax from your pay and give it to us
- give you payslips showing how much tax you have paid
- pay the right amount of super into your super fund.
If they don't do these things, you could be getting less pay and super than you should.
Find out more
Employee or contractor
Being an employee is different from being a contractor.
You are an employee if you are working in another person's business.
You are a contractor if you are self-employed and running your own business.
Some employers may incorrectly treat you as a contractor or encourage you to get an Australian business number (ABN) to try and avoid their responsibilities.
Only people who run a business need an ABN. If your employer is incorrectly paying you as a contractor you could be missing out on things like:
- sick leave
- holiday pay
- work cover (insurance).
Find out more
Workplace rights and obligations
All people working in Australia have the same rights and protections at work. Minimum pay rates and workplace conditions are set by Australian law.
The Fair Work Ombudsman can give you information and advice about your workplace rights and obligations. They have this information in different languages.
Earning money from a business usually means you will need to pay tax.
You may be eligible to claim some deductions for business expenses to reduce your tax.
If you employ people to work for you in your business, you have to pay tax and super for them.
If you aren't sure what you need to do, ask a registered tax agent or contact us for help.
Before you start your business
Business or hobby
It's important to know whether your activity is a business or hobby.
'Hobby' means something you do in your spare time for fun. If you intend to make a profit, you’re running a business.
If you're running a business, you have legal requirements such as:
- telling us how much income you've earned
- keeping records for any expenses you want to claim.
Choosing your business structure
There are four main business-types in Australia – sole trader, partnership, company and trust.
Each structure has different tax and reporting rules. These affect how much tax you pay and what happens if you get into debt. You need to understand these rules before you choose your business structure.
Getting your business started
Registering your business
When you start a business you need to get an:
- Australian business number (ABN)
- tax file number (TFN) – if you don’t already have one.
Depending on how much money you make and whether you have employees, you may also need to register for:
- Goods and services tax (GST)
- pay as you go (PAYG) withholding
- fringe benefits tax (FBT).
Getting a TFN for your business
All businesses need a tax file number (TFN).
If you're operating your business as a sole trader you can use your personal TFN.
For other business structures, you need to get a TFN for your business when you apply for an ABN.
Getting an ABN
An Australian business number (ABN) is a unique number for your business to use when dealing with other businesses, government, and the ATO.
Not everyone needs an ABN. You only need one if you are running a business.
You must put your ABN on your invoices. If you don't, other businesses will keep more tax than usual from any payments they make to you and send that tax to us.
It is free to get an ABN.
Registering for GST and other taxes
You may need to register for GST and other taxes, depending on the type of business you're running.
Reporting and paying tax
If you run a business, you will need to pay tax on money your business earns. The type of tax return you lodge depends on your business structure. You may also need to lodge activity statements.
Your tax return
Your tax return tells us:
- how much money your business has made
- how much tax you've paid.
You must lodge a tax return each year.
If you have set up your business as a sole trader, you will use your individual tax return to lodge your business tax information.
If you have set up your business as a partnership, company or trust, you use a different type of tax return just for your business.
Activity statements are different to tax returns. Businesses use an activity statement to report and pay taxes such as:
- goods and services tax (GST)
- pay as you go (PAYG) instalments.
If you are registered for GST, we will send you a business activity statement (BAS). We send most businesses their BAS every three months.
If you are not registered for GST, we will send you an instalment notice instead of a BAS. We will send this to you in your first or second year of business.
Claiming deductions and concessions
If you spend money on expenses for your business, you may be able to claim a tax deduction. This means you pay less tax.
Some business may also be eligible for tax concessions, offsets or rebates.
Paying your workers
If your business has employees or contractors, even if they are family, there are some extra things you need to do.
On the first day an employee starts working for you, you must ask them to fill out a Tax file number declaration form. If they don't, you will have to take tax from their pay at the highest rate and send it to us.
When you have employees, you must take tax from their pay and send it to us. This is called pay as you go (PAYG) withholding.
When you have employees, you must pay superannuation (super) contributions for eligible employees. You send this money to their super fund. This is called the 'super guarantee'.
Single touch payroll (STP)
Single Touch Payroll means you need to tell us your employees' payroll information each time you pay them. You need to report:
- salaries or wages paid
- tax withheld
- super contributions
When and how you report depends on how many employees your business has.
You can get special business software that will help you report this information to us. There are free and low-cost software products.
If you hire a contractor to work for your business, there are some different tax and super rules. It's important to understand the difference between employees and contractors.
Keeping business records
Keeping records is essential to running your business properly. You must keep some records for at least five years. Keeping accurate records also helps you to:
- know how your business is going
- keep track of your income and expenses
- show banks or lenders how your business is going.
Every year, most people need to complete a tax return and lodge it with us. In your tax return you tell us about all your income and deductions for the year.
We use this information to work out if you need to pay extra tax or if you need to get money back (a tax refund).
Tax returns cover the financial year from 1 July to 30 June. If you are doing your own tax return, you need to lodge it with us by 31 October.
If you want free help filling out your tax return and you are on a low income, our trained Tax Help volunteers may be able to help you.
If you are using a tax agent, you need to contact them before 31 October. You should check that your tax agent is registered.
Most people need to complete a tax return and lodge it with the ATO every year.
Why do I need to lodge a tax return?
The ATO needs to know how much money you earned (income) during the financial year and what deductions you can claim. This information tells them whether you need to pay extra tax (a tax bill) or you need to get money back (a tax refund).
A financial year is from 1 July to 30 June.
When do I need to lodge my tax return?
If you’re doing your own tax return, you need to lodge it by 31 October every year.
If a registered tax agent is helping you with your tax return you need to start working with them before 31 October.
How can I lodge my tax return?
If you’re doing your own tax return you can lodge it online using myTax.
If you’re using a registered tax agent, you should make an appointment to talk with them.
What information do I need to lodge my tax return?
You’ll need your:
- tax file number (TFN)
- bank account details in case you’re owed money back
- income – to prove any money you made
- income statements from all your employers
- payment summaries from Centrelink
- deductions and expenses – to prove any deductions you’re claiming
- receipts for work-related expenses, donations or gifts
If you’re lodging your tax return online using myTax, you’ll need your myGov user ID and password. If you don’t have a myGov account, you can set one up and link to the ATO through myGovExternal Link.
Employers, banks and other businesses give the ATO details about the people they work with. If you wait until late July, the ATO includes these details in your tax return for you. This makes lodging your tax return quicker and easier.
What income do I need to include?
You must include all the income you receive during the financial year. That means money you have earned from all your jobs, including:
- full time
- part time
- casual or odd jobs
- cash jobs.
You must also include money you earned in other ways, including:
- interest from bank accounts
- government payments (e.g. from Centrelink)
- owning a rental property
- overseas investments
- share market dividends.
No matter how you earn it, remember to include it in your tax return.
What deductions can I claim?
You can claim deductions for some expenses related to your job. Common deductions include:
- vehicle and travel expenses
- clothing, laundry and dry-cleaning
- home office expenses
- self-education expenses
- tools and equipment.
You must be able to show records, for example receipts, for any deductions you claim. You need to keep these records for at least five years. The ATO may ask you to show these records at any time.
Superannuation, or 'super', is a part of your income your employer pays into a super fund. Your super builds up over your working life. You use your super money to live on when you retire from work.
Super is important because the more you save, the more money you will have for your retirement.
There are age limits for when you can access your super. Be careful if anyone offers to help you withdraw your super early. It may be illegal.
If you were working in Australia on a temporary visa and you go home, you may be able to access your super. This is called as a Departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP).
- Your superannuation basics
- Illegal super schemes – beware of offers to withdraw your super early
- Departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP)
Scams are designed to trick you into:
- paying money you don't owe
- giving away your personal information (such as your TFN).
Here are some simple tips to avoid scams:
- Don’t put your tax file number (TFN) on your resume. Only give it to your employer after you have started work.
- Don't let your friends or family members use your TFN
- Don't share your online passwords with anyone.
- Don't include your TFN, passwords or other sensitive information in emails.
- If you are using a tax agent, make sure they’re registered.
- Is it a scam?
- Identity crime
- Verify or report a scam
- Search the Tax Practitioners Board registerExternal Link
If you need help with your tax or super, phone us on:
- 13 28 61 – for personal questions
- 13 28 66 – for business questions
- 13 10 20 – for super questions.
If you prefer to speak to us in a language other than English, phone us using the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50.
We encourage you to contact us early so we can work with you – it's never too late to ask us for help.
What to expect when you phone us
You should have your tax file number (TFN) or Australian business number (ABN) ready when you call.
When you speak to a customer service representative, they may ask you a series of questions to help identify you. This helps protect your personal tax records.
We can’t give you information about someone else, even if they’re family. If you're helping a friend or family member, they must be with you when you phone unless you are recorded as their 'authorised representative' in our systems.
Key tax and super terms
The list below includes the definitions for common tax and super terms we use in Australia.
ATO online services
You can access some of our services online. You can:
To use ATO online services you will need a myGov account.
Australian Business Number, ABN
A number that a business uses to identify themselves when dealing with other business or with government.
A person who can speak to us about your tax or super. You must officially let us know that you want them to speak to us for you. They can be a family member, a friend or a tax agent.
Business activity statement, BAS
A form some businesses use to report and pay their taxes such as goods and services tax (GST) and pay as you go (PAYG). This form can also be called an Activity statement.
Centrelink is an Australian Government program that delivers a range of government (social security) payments and services.
One of four ways you can structure a business. Companies must have a tax file number (TFN). They may need to have an Australian business number (ABN). The company is owned by any number of people. These people are called shareholders. If the company gets into debt shareholders do not have to use their own money to pay the debt.
A contractor runs their own business doing work for other businesses or people. They are not an employee. If you are a contractor, you decide how you do your work. You are paid for what you do, not for how long it takes you. You can pay someone else to do your work. This person would be called a sub-contractor.
Sometimes you have to buy things like tools or special clothing to help you do your job.
The cost of some of these things can be used to reduce your taxable income. This is called a deduction.
If you want to claim a deduction you must keep a record of what you bought. The record could be a receipt or a tax invoice.
You cannot claim a deduction if your employer:
Earn, Earned, Earnings
Money you get from:
A person who works for another person, business or organisation to earn money. They are told what work to do and how to do it.
A person or business that employs people (workers).
The amount of money you spend on a product or service. Some expenses can be claimed as deductions.
In Australia the financial year is from 1 July to 30 June.
Fringe benefits tax, FBT
Some employers give their workers benefits related to their work. Examples could be a company car or private health care. These are called fringe benefits.
If your employer gives you fringe benefits, they may have to pay more tax.
Goods and services tax, GST
A tax of 10% which is part of the price of most products and services. The seller holds on to the tax and then pays it to us.
The money you earn from activities like:
An income statement shows how much you earned and how much tax you paid in a financial year. It can also be called a Payment summary. You can see your income statement in ATO online services.
The amount of tax you have to pay based on your taxable income. This is also called tax payable.
Using money or things you own to make more money. Examples are putting money in a bank account to earn interest, buying shares or buying a property to rent out.
A document that gives details of what was bought and sold.
An invoice must be labelled as a tax invoice. It needs to include:
Sending prepared documents, like your tax return or Business activity statement, to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Medicare is an Australian Government program that gives Australians, and some people from overseas, a wide range of health and hospital services at no cost or low cost.
Medicare is paid by a levy on a person's taxable income.
A myGov account lets you access a range of Australian Government services online with one username and password.
One of four ways you can structure a business. A partnership is two or more people who run a business together.
Pay as you go (PAYG) withholding
When an employer pays their employees or contractors they hold back (withhold) some money, which is the tax amount. The employer then sends the tax to us.
A document your employer gives you each time they pay you. It shows how much you were paid and how much tax was sent to us.
A document which shows how much you paid for something and the date you bought it. It may also show how much GST was included in the price.
To retire means you plan to never work full-time again.
To use your super when you retire you must be older than a certain age (this is called a preservation age).
A scam is a trick to get you to:
One of four ways you can structure a business. A sole trader is a person who owns and operates a business for their own benefit. A sole trader may have employees.
Superannuation, or 'super', is your money. If you are eligible for super, your employer must pay it into the super fund you choose. You will use your super money to live on when you retire.
Money that you or your employer puts into your super fund.
An account into which you or your employer puts money while you are working. You can use the money when you retire or if you are living with a disability and can't work anymore.
This is the minimum amount of super your employer has to pay into your super fund. It is a minimum amount based on the current super guarantee rate of your ordinary time earnings.
For example, Mary earns $1,000 a week (before tax is taken out). The super guarantee amount is worked out as $1,000 x the super rate. This amount is paid by Mary's employer on top of Mary's earnings.
Tax is money people and businesses pay to the Australian Government. It is used to provide services we all need, such as:
A person or business that you pay to manage your tax and super. Only a registered agent can ask to be paid for their services. If they are registered it means that they know what they need to do to be a tax agent. You can find a registered tax agent on the Tax Practitioner's Board websiteExternal Link.
Tax concessions are benefits for some groups of people or businesses. The benefits can include:
When you owe us money. For example, if you did not pay enough tax during the year you will owe us money.
Tax file number, TFN
Your tax file number (TFN) is your personal identification number in our tax system. This is the number we and your employer use to keep track of how much tax you have paid.
You keep the same TFN for life, even if you change your name or address, change jobs, or move interstate or overseas.
Keep your TFN safe. Do not let anyone else use your TFN – not even friends or relatives.
Tax file number (TFN) declaration
When you start a new job your employer will ask you to fill out a form called a Tax file number declaration.
Your employer uses the information to work out how much tax to take out of your pay. This is called pay as you go (PAYG) withholding. Your employer pays this tax to us.
If you do not fill out the TFN declaration form your employer will take more tax out of your pay than you may need to pay. You should get this extra tax back as a tax refund when you lodge your tax return.
A free service we run to help people with low income to prepare and lodge their tax return.
Some people and businesses are eligible for tax offsets. A tax offset reduces how much tax you pay. A tax offset can also be called a tax rebate.
The amount of tax you pay out of each dollar you earn. Your tax rate depends on your circumstances.
If you paid more tax than you needed to in a financial year, we will give the money back to you.
A form you fill in each year and give to us. In the form you tell us how much money you earned and how much tax you have already paid.
You also tell us about deductions you want to claim. You need to have records (receipts or invoices) to prove what you tell us.
Most people need to lodge us a tax return each year.
We will work out if you have paid the right amount of tax. If you have paid too much, we will give money back to you (a tax refund). If you have not paid enough tax you will have to pay more (a tax debt).
This is the amount of money that employers take out of your pay and give to us.
If you are an Australian tax resident, the first $18,200 you earn is not taxed. This is called the tax-free threshold. Foreign residents cannot claim the tax-free threshold.
When you start a new job and fill out the TFN declaration form you tick a box to claim the tax-free threshold.
If you work in more than one job you should claim the tax-free threshold from the employer you earn the most money from.
If you think you will earn less than $18,200 from all of your jobs you can claim the tax-free threshold from all your employers.
The total income you earned in a financial year after you have taken away the deductions you can claim.
One of four ways you can structure a business. A trust is a person or company that looks after assets (like money or investments) so that other people can receive income from the assets. The people who receive the income are called beneficiaries.
Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra.Are you new to Australia? Here's all you need to know about tax and superannuation.