Just because you’re only going to make a few thousand dollars, don’t think that the Australian government won’t tax you on it! Those on Working Holiday visas are generally hit with the (low) rate of 29%, although labor intensive positions like farm work have rates of 15%, in order to attract the necessary workers. Employers genearally deduct the correct amount from your paycheck, but not always. Simply leaving the country without paying taxes isn’t a way out: if you owe, the ATO (Australian Taxation Office) will find you in your home country, and bill you.
As you would at home, keep all your pay slips. Also, before you move onto another job, request a copy of your final payroll statement, which should list total amounts earned and taxes paid. This is comparable to a W-2 in the United States. If you have all the paperwork, you will save yourself the hassle to trying to track down information later on in order to do your taxes, or paying a company to do it. The Australian financial year runs from July to June, not January to December. Thus, if you work in two different ‘years’, you will have to file taxes twice. Refer to the ATO page if you have any questions.
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If you don’t get any money back on taxes, there is still a possibility to claim money from your superannuation, or super, for short. A superannuation fund is money that your employer pays to the government, similar to social security in that it is generally claimed by retirees. Superannuation funds can be up to 9% of your wages. The process of reclaiming this money can be time-consuming and unwieldy, but can definitely be worth it for those who have spent more than a few months working in Australia.
The most important criteria for claiming a super is proof that you have left Australia or will be leaving Australia to live in another country. There are thousands of superannuation funds in Australia and each employer can pay into a different one. Before you depart each job, ask to be provided with the contact information of that employer’s superannuation company, and your membership number. When you decide to claim your money, provide a copy of your visa, the exit stamp, and your membership fund. Again, it is best to ask for all relevant information from an employer before you leave, as it can be very difficult to track down this information once you have departed the area. Be aware that fees will be assessed by each of the different funds, and it may not be worth it to claim supers paid by companies that you only worked at for a week or two. There are various organizations that will assist you in tracking down superannuation money, for a reasonable fee. Go to Google to search for a few. Anyone who has worked in Australia since 1992 is eligible for these refunds.