Top Ten Tips on Tax File Numbers

Top Ten Tips on Tax File Numbers

A TFN is a unique combination of 8 or 9 numbers issued to you by the ATO

You will need a TFN when lodging your taxes on E-Lodge and also when filling out a tax file number declaration, applying for different programs, and in a variety of other situations. Applying for a tax file number can take up to 28 days after submitting the tax file number application.

Having a TFN is very important!


Here are the top ten facts that you should know when it comes to tax file numbers:

1. You will need a TFN in order to:

  • Lodge a tax return
  • Start working or change jobs
  • Fill out a Tax File Number Declaration
  • Apply for income assistants or support programs
  • Claim the Family Tax Benefit (FTB)
  • Make or receive payments under PAYG withholding

2. If you have a lost tax file number, you can find your TFN on:

  • Your income tax notice of assessment
  • Any payment summaries
  • Your Superannuation statement
  • Correspondence you have received from the ATO.
  • Call the ATO at 13 28 61
  • Visit your closest shop front
  • See our other article about how to track it down!

3. Tax File Numbers were introduced in 1988. At that time both 8 digits and 9 digit TFNS were issued. Now, ONLY 9 digit TFNs are issued.

4. A Business has a TFN and an ABN, Australian Business Number.

5. If you are an Australian citizen, you can apply for a TFN

  • By attending an interview at an Australian Post retail outlet and then apply for a TFN on the web.
  • By online ordering by completing a paper Tax File number application 
  • By ordering over the phone a paper Tax File number application. The ATO phone number for this is 1300 720 092, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • By Going to an ATO Shopfront

6. If you are not an Australian resident, you can apply for a TFN online any time after entering Australia if you are:

  • A working holiday-maker
  • From New Zealand and automatically granted a visa upon arrival
  • A student form overseas and there have been amendments on your via for you to work
  • A person that has a valid visa and are allowed to be in Australia
  • A person in Australia with a business visa

7. When applying for a TFN you must have original documents that prove your identity. Receiving a TFN may take up to 28 days. You will receive the TFN to the postal address you listed on your application.

8. You must sign your TFN application…

  • If you are 16 years or older: you must sign your application
  • If you are 13-15 years old: You or your parent/guardian must sign the application
  • If you are 12 years or younger: Your parent or guardian must sign the application

9. A child can get a TFN at any age. Those who are having a parent or guardian sign the application for a TFN (15 and younger) must provide:

  • The parent or guardian’s full name and proof of identity
  • The applicants proof of identity documents
  • A document showing the relationship of the two.

10. The only people who should ask for your TFN include:

  • The ATO
  • Australian Government agencies
  • Tax agents, accountants, etc.
  • Child Support Agency
  • Trustees for Super Funds
  • Payers under the PAYG withholding system (like your employer)
  • Australian Federal Police
  • Banks, credit unions, or other investment groups.
  • Trustees of your held trust

It’s easy to see, having a TFN is important for a variety of reasons. If you do not have a TFN, you will not be able to lodge your taxes with E-Lodge. On the other hand, if you do have a TFN, you can get started and lodge your taxes at any time!



Updated 4 August 2016.

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3 Responses to “Top Ten Tips on Tax File Numbers”

  1. elizabeth tewhaiti says:

    i have been living in austrailia for the past 33 years and i have forgotten my tax file number could you please send it to me via email thank you elizabeth

  2. Tax Advisor says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    Unfortunately, we are not the ATO and do not provide TFNs. We focus on lodging Australian tax returns.
    To help point you in the right direction, I suggest using the ATO’s “Lost or Stolen TFN” website or calling the ATO directly at 132861.

    Best of luck!

  3. Ji Eun Song says:

    I currently have a guardian visa for my son. Could I apply for getting a TFN?

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