Is there such a thing as Free Money? Probably not, however after working in the hot sun picking fruit for a year or two spending an hour on your computer claiming back the tax and Superannuation you paid is definitely an easy way to get some extra travelling money. ‘How to Make Easy Money’ is an easy to follow guide to do just that. If you haven’t applied for your Working Holiday visa yet, check out my post here How to apply for a Working Holiday visa.
Applying for a Tax file Number
Of course, to be able to claim back your tax when you return home you need to have paid tax in the first place. To do this you need a Tax file Number. To apply for this Online takes about 20 minutes. Click on the link https://www.ato.gov.au to go to the Australian Tax Department webpage, it will open in a new page, so you can continue reading here.
You can only apply for a Tax file number once you are in Australia. An Australian postal address will be required.
Superannuation is Australia’s pension scheme aimed at providing retirement income for its elderly. This is an individual investment model, meaning each worker has their own account which is then invested by government regulated Superannuation Funds. Your employer will pay 9.5% on top of your earnings into your Super account.
There are many different Superannuation funds, most specialise in a particular industry. AustSafe is the Superannuation for the rural sector. You will need to give your employer your membership number when you start work. It is best to apply Online, it only takes a few minutes https://www.austsafe.com.au. If you do not provide your employer with your membership number, they will apply for an account for you and you may end up with any number of superannuation accounts each charging seperate administration fees.
When you leave Australia after having worked for two years you will have at least a few thousand in your Super. The easiest way to claim it back is online through the Australian tax department https://www.ato.gov.au/Super/. This claim is called Departing Australia Superannuation Payment or DASP for short. The Tax man will take 65% of this money which still leaves you with 35%. Even if you have only accumulated $2000 in Super, your DASP would still amount to $700. Definitely worth a few minutes of effort on your part.
DASP refund can only be applied for once you have left the country or your visa has expired or has been canceled. It should take about half an hour to complete, and is free of charge.
The Australian tax year runs from the first of July to the 31 of June. The tax paid throughout the year is provisional, meaning it is an estimate only? At the end of the financial year workers need to file a Tax return to ascertain if they have paid too much tax or not enough. Fruit picking is taxed at 15% for the first $37.000 providing you have supplied your employer with a Tax file number, if not you will be taxed 45%.
Once upon a time it was quite complicated to file a tax return, however now that everything is on the internet it is relatively simple. If you can read and comprehend English you can file your tax return. Employers lodge their end of year ‘Group Certificates’ online and this information can be automatically transferred to your Tax return. There are a few tax deductions that you need to be aware of;
1. Work related expenses such as work clothes, work shoes, gloves and tools. If you are organised and save all your receipts (not an easy thing while travelling) you can claim all those expenses. Without receipts there is a limit of $300. Check the Australian Tax Office (ATO) here for more details Work clothes & laundry expenses.
2. Travel expenses. Fruit Pickers, along with Sheep Shearers and a few other professions are classified as ‘Itinerant Workers’, you can therefore claim up to 5000 kilometres fuel expenses (at $0.68 cents/kilometer) plus meals and accomodation if you are travelling to a job that you have previously secured. This is important to note, YOU CAN NOT CLAIM IF YOU TRAVEL SOMEWHERE TO LOOK FOR A JOB, you must have the job lined up beforehand. For more details check out the ATO link here. Itinerant worker travel deductions.
Unlike the DASP, you can lodge your last Tax return before you leave the country. If leaving before the end of the tax year you can lodge your return early.
To Pay, or Not To Pay?
Of course there are Accountants and Tax Proffesionals that can lodge your tax return for you and also claim back your Super. One Online busines that I came across is https://www.pinkcow.com.au. I went to my friend Mr. Google and typed in ‘Pinkcow tax review’. Out of the 16 reviews 4 were decidedly negative. Now given that happy customers are less likely to leave reviews than unhappy ones this does not say much. However, as lodging a DASP and Tax return through the ATO is very simple and easy you could easily save yourself at least $89 dollars by doing it yourself. Now ask yourself how many tomatoes did you have to pick to earn that $89?
Be prepared, apply for your Tax file number and Superannuation member number as soon as you enter the country. This can be done Online and is simple and easy. To maximise your Tax refund each year, keep a folder with any receipts of anything work related, eg, work boots, work clothes, tools, etc. If possible, secure a job before you travel a long distance to find work, only then can you claim the $0.68 cents per kilometer back. (If you haven’t bought a car yet, be sure to check out this post first Buying a Used Car). Think carefully whether you want to pay someone to lodge your returns on your behalf. The DASP in particular is very simple and easy to do.
Thanks for taking the time to read. Please let me know in the comments box below if you found this information helpful.