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Tax basics

Help! I've lost my tax file number!

losttfninsideOption 1: The paper trail | Option 2: Contact the ATO | TFN needed for job? | Located overseas? | Tax rates | Deductions and rebates | Tax tools | Lost super

First of all, take a breath and don't panic.There are a few options to try. Tax file numbers are not available online due to security concerns. You can call the Tax Office between 8.00am and 6.00pm from Monday to Friday, on 13 28 61 to find out your TFN.

They need to make certain you are who you say you are, and the correct person with whom to be discussing your tax affairs (identity theft can, and does, occur) – so be ready to answer questions to which you, or your authorised representative, should know the answers.

Option 1: The paper trail But before you grab the phone, have you tried other sources? You might want to rifle through your paperwork and check the following, as your TFN should be on them:
  • your income tax 'notice of assessment' for a previous year
  • any correspondence sent to you from the Tax Office
  • a payment summary from your employer
  • an account statement from your superannuation fund.

Of course, if you use a tax agent or accountant, you can also ask them for your tax file number as you would have provided it to them previously.

Option 2: Contact the Tax Office
Another option is to fill in a form provided by the Tax Office to apply for, or inquire about, a TFN. Here is a sample of that form, but as the Tax Office will only process the bona fide paperwork that it provides taxpayers, you will need to order an actual paper form. Go to the Tax Office's 'online ordering' page and fill in your details, or call 13 28 65 (note this is different to the above number).

Is your TFN needed for a new job?
If it's not a tax-time panic over your lost TFN, relax! You have 28 days in which to provide your new employer with your tax file number before your employer has to start withholding tax from your pay at the maximum rate of 45%, plus Medicare levy of 1.5%. This should be ample time to try the measures mentioned above.

Are you located overseas?
If you're not in the country but feel a need to talk to a real person, calling from overseas is always an option. The Tax Office number is +61 2 6216 1111, and it is staffed between 8am to 5pm Australian eastern standard time on weekdays (except public holidays).

Permanent migrants or temporary visitors to Australia can apply for a TFN online at any time after entering Australia. This option is available if you are:
  • a working holiday-maker
  • a New Zealander and you are automatically granted a visa on arrival
  • an overseas student and your visa has been amended to allow you to work
  • a person with a valid visa allowing you to stay in Australia indefinitely
  • a person with a business visa.

To apply, go to www.iar.ato.gov.au to fill in the online interactive registration form.

Non-residents of Australia for tax purposes can apply for a TFN using the Tax file number - application or enquiry for individuals living outside Australia form (here's the link). The tests used to determine your residency status for tax purposes are not the same as those used by other Australian agencies for other purposes such as immigration (find out more here).

Each year in Australia, millions of dollars in unclaimed super is left behind by temporary residents who don't realise they are able to claim their contributions when they leave. Temporary residents who permanently leave Australia are entitled to receive their super benefits, and this is known as a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment, or DASP. Find out more about DASP here.

What about tax rates?
To make sure you are paying the right amount of tax, check out our tax rates page. This also has links to a simple tax calculator for members, or a more comprehensive tax calculator, also for members. And for more on tax file numbers click here.

Tax deductions and rebates
If getting your TFN was so you could lodge your tax return, this tax deduction checklist will be handy. While there, why not get a more thorough run-down of all the work-related tax deductions you may be able to claim. You can even check out the possibilities with the handy checklist by profession. If you work from home, there's even a special page of information for you.

Now that you're thinking about tax matters, are you perhaps eligible for tax rebates or offsets? For a run down on all of them, see our Rebates & Offsets page which lists them all – family allowances, childcare rebates, health offsets, education refunds and allowances, mature age worker allowances and pensioner rebates, breaks for low income earners and much much more.

Tax tools for you
Once you have your TFN, is it time to do get stuck into the calculations? Maybe our tax calculators can help. See our calculator page here, which has both a simple income tax calculator plus a more comprehensive income tax calculator listed at the top of the page.

There is also a whole range of different tax calculators and tools to help you manage all you tax affairs, grouped according to the topic categories of this website (as shown in the menu at top left) and listed alphabetically within those topics (a lot are free, but others are member-only).

Lost super, property
What about superannuation? You never know, maybe there is some super sitting in an account somewhere that would serve you better if it was in your own account. Find lost super by visiting our page here. And if you believe there may be other money out there that belongs to you, check the Unclaimed Money Registers in your state. ASIC has its own register too.

Do you have a rental property? See all the tax-related information you may need on our property page here. Members can even access the official and comprehensive list of depreciating assets from the Tax Office once logged in.

We've got a lot to offer, and really what is listed on this page has only scratched the surface. See our home page for Individuals (or for Small Business) for a complete picture of what Taxpayers Australia can do for you.

Last reviewed 12/06/13

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