20 Jul Australians living overseas
You should be aware of your tax and super obligations before you leave Australia. If you have already left, you can use ATO online services to do most tasks. When you leave Australia, you need to work out if you remain an Australian resident overseas. If you are unsure of your tax situation, see Your tax residency.
Reporting obligations are different for Australian, foreign or temporary residents for tax purposes. Regardless of your residency status, if you have a study or training support loan there are steps you need to take.
If you remain an Australian resident, you must lodge an Australian tax return. If you work while overseas, you must declare:
all your foreign employment income
any exempt income even if tax was withheld in the country where you earned it.
If you have a myGov account linked to the ATO, you can access your account from overseas to:
prepare and lodge your tax return
manage and check your super
manage your contact details and other tax obligations.
To find out more about ATO online service, see Using ATO online services.
If you can’t log in to your myGov, see When you can’t sign in to your myGov account.
This means, you need to repay your debt if you have moved or intend to move overseas, to live for six months or more in any 12 month period, and have one of the following study and training loans:
Higher Education Loan Program (HELP – formerly known as HECS)
VET Student Loan (VSL)
Trade Support Loan (TSL).
This applies even if you already live or intend to move overseas for a total of more than six months in any 12-month period.
Before you leave Australia or within seven days of leaving, you will need to:
update your contact details using our online services via myGov
submit an overseas travel notification.
You will also need to advise us of your worldwide income, make compulsory repayments or pay an overseas levy towards your debt if you earn over the minimum repayment threshold.
If you have a Student Financial Supplement Scheme (SFSS), Student Start-up Loan (SSL) or ABSTUDY Student Start-up Loan (ABSTUDY SSL) debt and go overseas, we will continue to maintain your loan account. Your debt will not be waived and the amount outstanding will continue to be indexed each year until you have paid off your debt.
You can still make voluntary repayments when you are overseas.
If you leave your home in Australia temporarily and rent it out, you can continue to treat it as your main residence for up to six years for capital gains tax (CGT) purposes. If you don’t rent out your vacated home, you can treat it as your main residence for an unlimited period.
If you cease to be an Australian resident and decide to sell your home in Australia you may be liable to pay CGT.
If you cease to be an Australian resident while overseas, we deem some of your assets – generally those not considered taxable Australian property – to have been disposed of for CGT purposes. This may mean you become liable to pay CGT.
You can choose not to have this deemed disposal apply. But if you do eventually dispose of the asset, we consider the whole period of ownership – including any period when you’re not an Australian resident – when we calculate a capital gain or loss for CGT purposes.
Rules for foreign residents
From 9 May 2017, foreign residents for tax purposes will no longer be able to claim the CGT main residence exemption when they sell property in Australia unless certain circumstances apply.
If you already held the property on 9 May 2017, you will be able to claim the CGT main residence exemption, if the CGT event (disposal) of the property occurs on or before 30 June 2020.
For property acquired at or after 9 May 2017, you will no longer be able to claim the CGT main residence exemption from that date unless certain life events occur within a continuous period of six years of you becoming a foreign resident for tax purposes.
For more information about residency and CGT, see Changing residency.
For more information about foreign residents and CGT, see Foreign residents and capital gains.
The Medicare levy surcharge applies to Australian residents who have income above the surcharge thresholds and do not have an appropriate level of private patient hospital cover.
So, if you cancel your private health insurance while travelling overseas, you may be liable for the Medicare levy surcharge if your income exceeds the relevant threshold.
You should contact your health fund to work out the amount of premium you expect to save by cancelling or suspending your cover. Compare it to the surcharge you may have to pay.
For more information, see Medicare and private health insurance.
You and all your family dependants must have private patient hospital cover to avoid paying the Medicare levy surcharge. Cancelling or suspending cover for yourself will mean you and your spouse may each still be liable for the surcharge if your combined income for the purposes of the surcharge exceeds the family surcharge threshold.
Travel health insurance
Travel insurance is not private patient hospital cover for the purposes of the Medicare levy surcharge. Private patient hospital cover does not include cover provided by an overseas fund.
Exempt foreign employment income and the surcharge thresholds
Although your foreign employment income may be exempt from tax, we still take it into account when we determine your taxable income for the purposes of the Medicare levy surcharge.
Example: foreign income and the Medicare levy surcharge
John is single and an Australian resident. In 2021-22, he has:
no private patient hospital cover
exempt foreign employment income of $75,000
taxable income of $20,000.
John’s income, for the purposes of the Medicare levy surcharge, is $95,000. As this falls in the income range of $90,001–$105,000 for a single person, he is liable for the Medicare levy surcharge of 1.0%.
The surcharge is 1% of $20,000 (his taxable income), which equals $200.
End of example
If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident leaving Australia temporarily or permanently, your superannuation remains subject to the same rules. This means you can’t access your super until you reach preservation age and retire or satisfy another condition of release.
You should check your super regularly and combine any accounts you no longer need. You can do this through our online services, via myGovExternal Link. Combining multiple super accounts means you don’t have to pay multiple sets of fees and charges.
If you have a small super account that you want to keep with your super fund, contact your super fund and tell them. This will prevent it from being transferred to us as unclaimed super.
If you are planning on moving either permanently or indefinitely to New Zealand, you can leave your super in Australia or transfer it to a New Zealand KiwiSaver scheme from a participating Australian super fund.
For more information see:
If you are a trustee of a self-managed super fund and you intend to travel overseas for an extended period, check before you leave that your fund will continue to meet the definition of an Australian super fund.
Australian Taxation Office