How to Apply for a TFN

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Written By: Tax Kangaroo
How to Apply for a TFN

A TFN will help you lodge Australian tax online – here’s how to apply

Though not strictly necessary, it is highly recommended that you get a tax file number (TFN). A TFN is a unique number issued to you by the ATO to help them keep track of your tax and other financial affairs.

If you don’t have a TFN, taxes will be withheld from your wages at the maximum rate (which means a smaller paycheck for you) and the ATO may take longer than normal to process your return. Not to mention there are plenty of other benefits to having a TFN.

The only problem is that applying for a TFN is actually pretty complicated, unduly so, because there are three different methods of applying. Exactly how you apply for a TFN depends on your circumstances.

Visitors and Migrants

If you are visiting Australia and intend to work or you are migrating to Australia permanently you can apply for a TFN online.

In order to apply for a TFN with this method you must be

  • a working holidaymaker
  • a New Zealander and you are automatically granted visa on arrival
  • an overseas student and your visa has been amended to allow you to work
  • a person with a valid visa allowing you to stay in Australia indefinitely
  • a person with a business visa

These qualifying people can apply online for a TFN and do not need to provide physical documents as proof of identity.

Individuals Living Outside Australia

If you are a nonresident for tax purposes but still have to file a tax return (for example if you receive rental income from an Australian property, business income from Australian interest, etc.) it may be helpful for you to obtain a TFN.

Unfortunately, however, the ATO does not offer you the ability to apply online. You will have to download and complete the form Tax file number – application or enquiry for individuals living outside Australia.

Australian Residents for Tax Purposes

The good news is that Australian residents sixteen and older can now apply for a TFN online. But in order to do so you must be able to go to an interview at a participatory Australia Post retail outlet.  It’s no longer necessary to post documents verifying your identity to the ATO. Instead bring those documents with you to the interview and they will verify your identity there.

Among its many other benefits, getting a fax file number allows you to lodge a tax return online.

Photo via paul bica on Flickr.

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