Tax Residency

COVID19 Is your status as a tax non-resident affected if you return home to Australia

Many non-residents for tax purposes have returned to Australia due to Covid19 so that they can be with family and friends.  If you are not an Australian resident for tax purposes, what will this extended stay in Australia mean for you? On the flip side, are you an Australian resident who is stuck overseas – will your tax obligation change in Australia? The ATO has answered some frequently asked questions to assist taxpayers:



I am not an Australian resident. I am staying in Australia for longer than I expected because of COVID-19. What are my Australian tax obligations?

The ATO has stated that if you are not an Australian resident for tax purposes and are only in Australia temporarily for some weeks or months because of COVID-19, then you will not be considered an Australian resident for tax purposes provided that you usually live overseas permanently and you intend to return as soon as possible. Your tax obligations will generally remain unchanged as a non-resident.


If you had triggered residency concerns prior to COVID-19, and have subsequently been unable to leave Australia, your situation may be more complicated. Please contact us for further advice.


What happens if I earn employment income while I am here temporarily?

If you are receiving income whilst in Australia from a foreign employer while on paid leave, this will generally not be considered as Australian income and would not be assessable in Australia.

If you are working remotely in Australia due to COVID-19, and you were not intending to stay in Australia and have been unable to leave the country, the ATO will generally accept that working in Australia for less than 3 months will not result in you being assessed for Australian tax – regardless of whether your employer is Australian or foreign. This guidance will be further considered by the ATO as the COVID-19 situation evolves.


What if I get a wage or salary in Australia and my home country has a double tax agreement with Australia?

The ATO had stated that Australia’s double tax agreements (‘DTA’) provide that, in certain circumstances, employment income derived by a person who is a resident of the other country (after applying the DTA tie-breaker rules) from performing employment duties in Australia for a short period will generally not be taxed in Australia.

Each DTA can vary from country to country, so it is important to carefully read the articles and times periods specified in the DTA.



I am working overseas because of COVID-19. What are my Australian tax obligations?

If you normally live and work in Australia and are only temporarily overseas due to COVID-19, your tax obligations will generally remain unchanged. If foreign laws require you to pay tax overseas, you will usually be entitled to a foreign income tax offset against your Australian tax payable.

How can Waterhouse Lawyers help you?

Tax residency can become more complicated if you stay in Australia for a lengthy period of time, and do not make plans to leave if you are able to do so or vice versa. Waterhouse Lawyers is experienced in providing tax residency advice, having provided advice to many Australian expats living overseas. The lawyers and consultants at Waterhouse Lawyers understand the intricacies of various DTA’s Australia is a party to, and has also considered how international law and non-tax treaties apply to tax residency questions.


If you would like to inquire about our residency services, please contact us via our website, email or call 02 9252 8746.





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