Working Visas, Tax and Superannuation

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As a New Zealand citizen you can live and work in Australia without specifically applying for any type of work visa.

Your Special Category Visa (SCV) - which is electronically and automatically assigned when you use your passport to enter Australia - is all you need to both live and work in Australia.

Aside from actually finding work, tax is perhaps the next biggest thing you'll want to get on top of as far as earning a crust goes.

Paying Tax In Australia

We can’t claim accountancy as one of our qualifications, so we ask you not to take the tax advice on this site as absolute. What follows is our attempt to understand and summarize the murky workings of Australian and New Zealand tax law. Treat this as a rough guide and speak with an accountant to learn more.

When do you need to pay tax in Australia?

Most people will start paying tax in Australia as soon as they begin their job. If you are a contractor, then it’s a good idea to find an accountant within 6 months of arriving so you can find out what you need to do to prepare for your tax return at the end of the year.

If you are self-employed and have clients in both New Zealand and Australia, you will probably pay tax in Australia, but this is something your accountant can help you with.

If you own a company registered in New Zealand, you will need to continue paying company tax in New Zealand, but your individual income will usually be taxed in Australia. Again, this is something your accountant will help you determine.

Becoming a resident for tax purposes

Whether you pay tax in New Zealand or Australia depends on your economic and social ties, and how long you are in the country for the given year. Most people migrating to Australia will automatically become residents for tax purposes, but there are some exceptions.

This is definitely something you should check with your accountant, but if you have strong social and economic ties, personal property or accommodation in New Zealand, you may need to continue to pay tax in New Zealand while living in Australia. Some examples of situations where you may need to remain a NZ resident for tax purposes are:

For more information see the complete New Zealand Tax Residence Guide. To clarify your particular situation, we strongly recommend talking to an accountant.

What to do before you leave New Zealand

To find out whether you pay tax in Australia or New Zealand, fill out this questionnaire and send it to the IRD. We highly recommend doing this before shifting to Australia so that you know where you stand.

You should also inform the IRD of your new address in Australia when you have one. If you haven’t already, it’s a great idea to register for the IRD’s online service, which means you can easily update your address while overseas and continue to be informed about things like student loan repayments or other tax obligations you may have.

Double tax?

One thing’s for sure, you won’t be taxed in both Australia and New Zealand, as the two countries have a tax agreement.

This agreement also means that you can’t ‘escape’ to Australia to avoid tax debts in New Zealand and obligations like child support. The Inland Revenue and Australian Tax Office are able to share information and help each other collect tax debt.

Working or travelling to Australia for a short time?

Check out the Working in Australia overview from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to learn how you’ll be taxed if you are only going to be working in Australia for part of the year.

Current tax rates

In Australia, the first $18,200 you earn is tax free (it often works out higher than this by the time you take into account tax concessions if you aren't a high wage earner - talk to an accountant to see if this applies to you). The current individual tax rates for the 2017 Australian financial year (1 July, 2016 - 30 June, 2017) are:

Taxable Income Tax
$1 – $18,200 Nil
$18,201 – $37,000 19c for each $1 over $18,200
$37,001 – $87,000 $3,572 plus 32.5c for each $1 over $37,000
$87,001 – $180,000 $19,822 plus 37c for each $1 over $87,00
$180,001 and over $54,232 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,000

Note that the above rates do not include the 2% Medicare Levy or the Temporary Budget Repair Levy (2% for incomes over $180,000).

You can view the latest individual income tax rates on the Australian Taxation Office site.

The Australian equivalent of an IRD number is a Tax File Number (TFN) from the Australia Taxation Office (which is the Australian version of the Inland Revenue Department).

You can apply for a Tax File Number online on the Australian Taxation Office website. As a New Zealand citizen you can apply for a TFN once you are present in Australia.

Applying for a TFN online takes approximately 20 minutes. You will need to provide your passport or travel document number, a postal address in Australia (to which your TFN will be sent), your legal name and other names you use or have used, and contact details for yourself or your preferred contact person. Once you have applied, your TFN will be sent to you in the post and will take about 1 - 2 weeks to arrive.

Still have questions about working in Australia? Check out our discussion forum where you can ask questions that can be answered by us and other readers.