Tax and superannuation

International students and graduates working in Australia pay income tax and receive superannuation payments.

In Australia, there are laws that protect your rights as a worker and outline your responsibilities.

If you do paid work in Australia, you will pay income tax and receive superannuation payments. 

All residents pay tax and receive ‘super’

If you study in Australia for longer than six months, and you work while you study, you will need to pay income tax and have a Tax File Number (TFN). 

You should also receive superannuation payments from your employer. These payments are known as ‘super’ and are a form of retirement savings.

Tax payments in Australia

If you study in Australia for longer than six months, you will be considered a resident for tax purposes. You must pay tax on income earned, at the same tax rate as all other residents in Australia. 

Your employer will pay the tax to the ATO for you on any amount you earn above AU$18,200 each year. Income below this amount is tax-free.  

Visit the Australian Tax Office (ATO) website and apply for a Tax File Number (TFN)

Find out if you need to lodge a tax return or non-lodgement advice with the ATO.

You can claim tax deductions for work-related expenses. Find out more about deductions you can claim.  

In Australia, a fiscal year is commonly called a "financial year" (FY). It starts on 1 July and ends on the next 30 June.    
By 14 July each year, your employer needs to give you a Payment Summary for the financial year that has just ended.  

Your Payment Summary will show the amount you earned, and the amount of tax paid from your pay to the ATO by your employer. 

31 October is the deadline to lodge your own ‘tax return’.  

Extensions can apply if you use a tax agent or accountant.

Superannuation or ‘super’ is one of your entitlements as a worker in Australia and is designed to accumulate as savings.  

If you earn more than $450 per month, your employer will pay superannuation on top of your salary to a separate super account.

Your super becomes available to you when you retire or permanently leave Australia. 

Find out more about claiming your super before you go home

A tax return is a form that is lodged with the ATO either on paper or online. You can do this yourself or get help (see below).

When you lodge a tax return, the ATO will check the amount of tax listed on your Payment Summary against the rate you should be paying and also check any ‘deductions’ for your expenses. 

If there is a difference between what you have paid and what you should have paid, the ATO will either give you a refund or ask you to pay more to make up the difference.

  • Contact student services at your education or training provider and ask for advice
  • Check if you’re eligible for the ATO’s Tax Help Program.
  • Consider using a registered tax agent or accountant. They can help ensure your forms are completed correctly and that you are claiming all your entitlements. These service providers usually charge a fee, but you may not have to pay up-front. You can also claim any fees as a deduction in your next year’s tax return.

Does your enrolled course finish in under six months? Do you plan on leaving Australia when you complete this course?  If the answer is yes, you be a non-resident for tax purposes.   

Work out your residency for tax purposes.