Expat Living In Australia
Living overseas in Australia will be an interesting experience and an opportunity to immerse yourself in a country whose lifestyle is very much driven by outdoor pursuits and a spirit of multiculturalism. Australia has long been a destination of choice for professionals around the world. However, one major downside to living in Australia is the high cost of living. Both Sydney and Melbourne are ranked among the top most expensive places to live. Some of the must-see places to see and visit include:
- The Great Barrier Reef
Moving to Australia provides the expat with a very good quality of life (irrespective of the cost of living) and plenty of jobs at a variety of levels Below is a list of our top 10 most attractive Australian cities for foreigners to reside in (in no particular order):
- Perth, Western Australia
- Sydney, New South Wales
- Melbourne, Victoria
- Brisbane, Queensland
- Adelaide, South Australia
- Cairns, Queensland
- Darwin, Northern Territory
- Gold Coast, Queensland
- New Castle, New South Wales
Guide To US Expat Tax In Australia
The Tax Samaritan country guide to US expat tax in Australia is intended to provide a general review of the tax environment of Australia and how that will impact your U.S. expatriate tax return as a U.S. Expat In Australia.
As a U.S. taxpayer, all worldwide income is subject to taxation and reporting and for most expatriates you are required to file a U.S. tax return on an annual basis due on April 15 each year (June 15 if you are residing overseas on the April 15 deadline). The tax treatment for different classes of income can vary greatly from Australia and the U.S. For example, certain benefits may be tax free or excluded from taxable income in the Australia, but in the U.S. these benefits are likely to be non-qualified benefits that are subject to being included as taxable income in U.S. As such, there are a number of considerations related to US expat tax in Australia and this brief article will address a few of those considerations.
Australia Expat Income Taxes
Who Is Liable For Income Taxes In Australia
In Australia, Australian residents are subject to Australian tax on worldwide income. Nonresidents are subject to Australian tax on Australian-source income only. An exemption from Australian tax on certain income is available for individuals who qualify as a temporary resident.
Temporary residents are generally exempt from Australian tax on foreign-source income (including foreign investment income but not foreign employment income) and capital gains realized on assets that are not taxable Australian property (TAP).
Who Is An Australia Tax Resident
The Australian tax treatment differs for residents, nonresidents and temporary residents. In general, a resident is defined as a person who resides in Australia according to the ordinary meaning of the word, and includes a person who meets either one of the following conditions:
- He or she is domiciled in Australia, unless the tax authority is satisfied that the person’s permanent place of abode is outside Australia.
- He or she is actually present in Australia continuously or intermittently for more than half of the tax year, unless the tax authority is satisfied that the person’s usual place of abode is outside Australia and that the person does not intend to reside in Australia.
Thus, the residence tests can be met relatively easily. For example, a person who is in Australia for employment purposes for as little as six months may be considered resident in Australia for tax purposes. Whereas, a non-resident is a person who does not satisfy any of the above tests.
Tax Year In Australia And Tax Filing And Payment Rules
The tax year in Australia is a fiscal year of July 1 thru June 30 and are due by October 31.
At Tax Samaritan, we can guide you with the compiling and proper reporting of your tax return information on a calendar-year basis. We have many clients that are faced with the challenge of acquiring information based on a calendar year and as our client we will share with you our tips and tricks for acquiring your required calendar year tax information.
Expat Tax Withholding In Australia
The tax year in AUSTRALIA is January 1 to December 31. Foreigners must register with the local tax bureau. Although the recipient of income is responsible for payment of income tax, it is generally collected through a withholding system under which the payer is the withholding agent.
What You Need To Know About Living And Working In Australia For Your U.S. Expat Tax Return
When dealing with US expat tax in Australia, there a number of preferential expat tax treatments that may benefit your U.S. expatriate tax return. In fact, for many U.S. expats it will reduce your U.S. taxes to zero.
Some of these preferential tax treatments or benefits for US expat tax in Australia include the:
- If you are a U.S. citizen or a resident alien of the United States and you live in Australia, US expat tax in Australia is based on your worldwide income and as such must file a U.S. return for all the years that you are residing in Australia. However, as a U.S. expat you may qualify to reduce your U.S. taxable income up to an amount of your foreign earnings that is adjusted annually for inflation ($99,200 for 2014). In addition, you can exclude or deduct certain foreign housing amounts. This is known as the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and foreign housing exclusion.
- When it comes to US expat tax in Australia, most US expatriates worry about “double taxation” – paying taxes to two different countries – the U.S. and Australia. A U.S. taxpayer working overseas in Australia may be able to reduce U.S. taxable income and “double taxation” by claiming the Foreign Tax Credit on Form 1116. Should any foreign income not be fully offset by the foreign earned income exclusion, housing exclusion or housing deduction, the foreign tax credit paid or accrued may be used as a deduction or credit on the U.S. tax return. Taxpayers can elect to either deduct the taxes as an itemized deduction on Schedule A or claim a credit against tax. In most cases, it is to your advantage to take foreign income taxes as a tax credit.
A common but dangerous mistake is the assumption that if there are zero taxes owed with these tax benefits that a return for US expat tax in Australia does not need to be filed. That is not true. If you are working overseas, it is likely that you meet the filing requirements to file a tax return and must do so. It is important to note that the preferential tax treatments, such as the foreign earned income exclusion and foreign tax credit are not applicable to the outcome of your tax liability until they are claimed on a filed tax return.
When faced with US expat tax in Australia there are many tax items to consider, but the above are by far the most common preferential tax benefits. With top-notch experienced and knowledgeable expat tax preparation from Tax Samaritan, you can be assured that you are paying the minimal amount of U.S. taxes that you are legally obligated for.
Australia Foreign Bank Account Reporting – The FBAR (FinCen Form 114)
Another important tax deadline that frequently applies to US expat tax in Australia is in regards to the disclosure of foreign assets on the FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report – Form 114 – formerly known as TD F 90-22.1).
The FBAR filing deadline is June 30th (or the preceding business day if June 30th falls on a weekend). Unfortunately, requesting an extension on your individual return does not extend the FBAR due date – there is no extension available for the FBAR deadline. Any reports filed after this date are considered a delinquent FBAR. In addition, the FBAR is different than many other tax forms in that it must be received by the deadline date (and not postmarked by the deadline date).
The FBAR must be filed with the Treasury Department (it is not filed with your federal income tax return) whenever you meet the FBAR filing requirements, which in a nutshell is whenever a U.S. person has a financial interest in, or signature authority over a foreign financial account, including a bank account, brokerage account, mutual fund, trust or other type of foreign financial account (including an insurance policy with a cash value such as a whole life insurance policy) maintained with a financial institution, with an aggregate value of over $10,000 at any time during the calendar year based on the highest value of each foreign account during the tax year.
If you have bank accounts at Northern Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) or at another bank in Australia or any other foreign country, you may meet the filing requirement to disclosure your foreign accounts on the FBAR. Please don’t hesitate to contact Tax Samaritan to learn more about your filing requirements.
U.S. – Australia Social Security Totalization Agreement
Australia also has a compulsory private superannuation (pension) contribution system. Under this system, employers must contribute a minimum percentage of the employee’s earnings base to a complying superannuation fund for the retirement benefit of its employees. For the 2013-14 tax year, the minimum percentage is 9.25%.
The United States has entered into agreements, called Totalization Agreements, with several nations for the purpose of avoiding double taxation of income with respect to social security taxes. These agreements must be taken into account when determining whether any alien is subject to the U.S. Social Security/Medicare tax, or whether any U.S. citizen or resident alien is subject to the social security taxes of a foreign country. As of this time, Australia has entered into a Totalization Agreement with the United States thus there is opportunity to avoid double taxation of social security income for US expat tax in Australia.
It may be possible to keep the US expat, in the US social security system under a certificate of coverage issued by the US and therefore remove the obligation to make the Australian superannuation contributions outlined above.
Click here to read more on the US – Australia Totalization Agreement and the benefit for your US expat tax in Australia.
U.S.- Australia Tax Treaty And Tax Relief For US Expat Tax In Australia
The U.S. currently has a tax treaty with Australia. Please click on the link to the U.S. – Australia Tax Treaty.
Qualified Dividends In Australia For Your Foreign Corporation or Investment
Since 2003, dividends paid to individual shareholders from either a domestic corporation or a “qualified foreign corporation” are subject to tax at the reduced rates applicable to certain capital gains. A qualified foreign corporation includes certain foreign corporations that are eligible for benefits of a comprehensive income tax treaty with the United States. Australia foreign corporations are eligible for this lower “qualified” dividend rate and can be a significant benefit for reduced US expat tax in Australia.
Our goal at Tax Samaritan is to provide the best counsel, advocacy and personal service for our US expat tax in Australia. We are not only tax preparation and representation experts, but strive to become valued business partners to American expatriates in Australia. Tax Samaritan is committed to understanding our client’s unique needs; every tax situation is different and requires a personal approach in providing realistic and effective solutions.
Click the button below to request a Tax Preparation Quote today to get started with the preparation of your return for US expat tax in Australia or to request a free 30-minute tax consultation.
Tax Samaritan is a team of Enrolled Agents with over 25 years of experience focusing on US expat tax in Australia and throughout the world. We maintain this tax blog where all articles are written by Enrolled Agents. Our main objective is to educate US taxpayers on their tax responsibilities and the selection of a tax professional. Our articles are also designed to help taxpayers looking to self prepare, providing specific tips and pitfalls to avoid.
When looking for a tax professional, choose carefully. We recommend that you hire a credentialed tax professional such as Tax Samaritan that is an Enrolled Agent (America’s Tax Experts) that is experienced and knowledgeable about US expat tax in Australia. If you are a US taxpayer overseas, we further recommend that you seek a professional who is experienced in expat tax preparation, like Tax Samaritan (most tax professionals have limited to no experience with the unique tax issues of expat taxpayers).
Randall Brody is an enrolled agent, licensed by the US Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before the IRS for audits, collections and appeals and experienced with US expat tax in Australia. To attain the enrolled agent designation, candidates must demonstrate expertise in taxation, fulfill continuing education credits and adhere to a stringent code of ethics.
Every effort has been taken to provide the most accurate and honest analysis of US expat tax in Australia. Please use your discretion before making any decisions based on the information provided. This blog is not intended to be a substitute for seeking professional US expat tax in Australia advice based on your individual needs.