In this day and age, you can work from anywhere in the world.
Where taxpayers once filed in their country and in one state/province/territory, we are now given the luxury to work from, essentially, wherever we want! At the same time, we can maintain residency in another country. Throw in study abroad programs and tax law and you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for a massive headache.
It’s a given that every tax situation is different. That in mind, it’s a good thing that you only need to keep track of your own. We’ll give you the basics here, in this article, so that you can then apply them to your specific circumstances.
Before we answer this question, you should know your resident country and who you’re working for. Generally speaking, there are three situations that you may find yourself in:
1.You’re still an Australian resident. You should file (or lodge…mate) your tax return.If you’re an Australian resident and you worked for an Australian-based company within the last year–or otherwise claim your address to be in Australia–you need to lodge Australian tax forms. Fortunately these forms are easily found and completed online, so you don’t have to be in Australia to do them. Just pay attention to the deadlines and make sure you have all the information you need before lodging!
2.You’re working for an Australian-based company. Yet again, the answer is yes to filing your tax return. This is one of the trickier aspects of international tax law–if you’re living (or a resident) of another country, but working for a company based elsewhere, you likely owe some taxes in their own country as well as your own. Fortunately, with some perseverance, you can make sure you’re not double penalized for this situation, but this is a complicated situation. If you have to do Australian tax forms, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to fill them out, or you could find yourself paying a lot more in taxes than you need to.
3.You’re a student. This could play out a bit differently for you. If you’re studying abroad in Australia, you don’t need to fill out Australian tax forms (though you will need to file taxes in your home country. However, you can get Australian tax back, provided you save the receipts for those expensive souvenirs that you’re buying. You can fill those form out at the customs desk at the airport (or shortly after leaving), but you have to do those Australian tax forms fast or else you lose the chance to do them at all! So if you’re buying a lot of didgeridoos for your mates back home, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to declare them at the customs gate!
How to file an Australian tax return from overseas
Just how our job situations are changing, the tax system is also evolving to reflect that. At this point, lodging your tax return is easier to do than ever, from wherever you may be in the world. Provided you find the right online lodging service, doing your taxes from wherever you’ve landed can be a snap. Just make sure to give yourself plenty of time to complete them, as complicated situations unfortunately mean more forms for you to fill out.
Updated 5 August 2016.