If you have earned any money while being a student in Australia, the chances are, you will need to submit a tax return. In this article, we explain key information about tax returns for students who are from Australia and those who are classed as an international student that is studying/resident in Australia on a temporary basis only.

Can students claim their tax back in Australia?

If you’re a student who works part-time, then you could be eligible to claim a tax refund. As an average figure, students will pay roughly 15.5% in tax on any money they make. You might be able to claim some or all of that amount back as part of your 2019 tax refund for students.

Essential Information about Tax Returns for International Students in Australia

If you have been a student in Australia for six months or more, then for tax purposes only, you are considered to be an Australian Resident. Because of this, you must submit a tax return if you earn money while you are in Australia.

Q. How do I know if I need to submit a tax return while studying in Australia?

A. As an international student, then you will need to submit a tax return in the below situations:

  • Your income is above the tax-free threshold of $18,200.
  • If your income is below $18,200, but you paid tax; you will need to submit a return to claim a refund.

If you are a student, but you did not pay tax, and the income you earned was under the tax-free threshold, then you won’t be required to complete a tax return. If this is the case, then you will still need to send a non-lodgement note to the ATO to let them know that you do not intend to lodge a return for the reasons stated above. Here is a link to the non-lodgement advice form from the ATO for 2019.

Tips About What You Can Claim on a Student Tax Return

Here are a few of the most commonly claimed expenses on student tax returns.

  1. Student Union Fees
  2. Textbooks
  3. Stationary
  4. Work-related expenses, such as the cost of cleaning, buying, hiring or repairing a uniform for work
  5. Any decline in value over time of equipment, such as a computer
  6. Self-education expenses that directly relate to the job you hold, not the job you want to hold
  7. If you pay a fee to a tax agent during the year, you can also claim these costs as part of your tax refund

The beneficiary tax offset is also something that’s useful to understand. If you get a Youth Allowance, a Newstart Allowance, AUStudy payments, or any other commonwealth education or training programs, then you could be eligible for this tax offset.

Finally, if you are a student who also runs a business, then the small business income tax offset could also apply to you. This is normally 8% of the payable income tax on the portion of your taxable income; as long as your turnover is under $5 million AUD. This is usually quite complex, so if you want to explore this as a tax offset as a student, then it could benefit you to get expert advice.

Make sure you always keep full records, even if you earn a part-time income from the gig economy.