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Tax Residency

Australians living overseas must start repaying student loans: HELP, TSL, HECS

If you are an Australian living overseas and you have a student loan, then you must register on MyGov by 1 July 2017 and start repaying this loan if you earn over $54,896. This is regardless of whether you are a resident of non-resident of Australia for tax purposes.

Starting from July 2017, the loophole allowing Australians living overseas to avoid their student debt liability will close. This means that you will be required to pay back the debt as if you were still living in Australia.

The ATO will initially encourage and rely upon self-reporting of foreign income to facilitate the new legislation. However, data sharing between state revenue authorities was highlighted by federal education minister Simon Birmingham as “critical to ensuring the future sustainability of the HELP and TSL schemes” and will likely play a role in enforcing these changes.

In addition to this, the ATO has signalled that the same range of penalties available in taxation law may apply to individuals who continue to ignore these obligations.

The New Rules

If you plan on living or moving overseas for more than 6 months in any 12-month period, then you will need to update your contact details on MyGov within 7 days of leaving Australia. If you have already moved overseas, the deadline to do so is 1 July 2017.

What this means is that if you are living overseas and earning income which exceeds the minimum threshold for repayment, which in the 2016/17 income year is $54,896, then you will need to make repayments just as if you were still within Australia.

This also means that you will be required to submit your income details by the 31 October each year for the previous income year, detailing your residency status and worldwide income.

Impact of these Changes

It is crucial that you correctly determine your residency status each year before submitting your details, as this information will bring people claiming to be non-residents to the ATO’s attention.

Residency

We can provide detailed residency advice so you feel comfortable submitting that you are a non-resident and avoid any penalties imposed by the ATO.

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