Overseas obligations - FAQs

Do I have to make HELP debt repayments if I’m living overseas?

Yes. HELP and other study and training loan repayments apply overseas if you are earning worldwide income above the minimum repayment threshold, just as it is in Australia. From 1 July 2017, you will be required to report your worldwide income to the ATO and an overseas repayment levy may be raised.

Does this apply to all study and training loans?

Yes. Overseas repayment arrangements apply to all study and training loans: HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP, OS-HELP, SA-HELP as well as VET FEE-HELP, VET Student Loans and TSL.

I am going overseas. What do I need to do?

If you are going overseas for 183 days or more in any 12 months you will need to let the Australian Tax Office (ATO) know. 183 days equates to around 6 months.

Anyone intending to go overseas for six months or more whether for a holiday, study or work, has an obligation to notify the ATO. The six months is cumulative and does not have to be all at the same time – it is 183 days or more in any 12 month period.

You can notify the ATO through the ATO's online services via your myGov account. You will need to link your account to the ATO online services so you can update your overseas contact details.

Please update your contact information in ATO’s online services via myGov before 1 July 2017. For more information on how to update your details via ATO online, go to: www.ato.gov.au/overseasobligations.

How do I register for a myGov account?

If you don’t already have an account, visit the ATO's www.ato.gov.au/overseasobligations webpage for details on creating and accessing your myGov account while overseas.

Through the ATO’s online services via myGov, you can also view your HELP and TSL account balance.

I’m already living overseas. Do I need to do anything?

Yes. If you have a HELP or TSL debt, from 1 July 2017 onwards you will be required to report your worldwide income to the ATO.

If your 2016-17 worldwide income exceeds the minimum repayment threshold, the ATO will raise a compulsory repayment, known as an overseas levy.

The HELP minimum repayment threshold changes annually, in 2016-17 it is A$54,869.

Your return can be lodged and repayments made using the ATO’s online services via myGov.

Lodgements are due by 31 October each year. If you lodge your return via a registered Australian tax agent, your lodgement date is that of the tax agent.

Visit the ATO’s overseas repayments webpage for more details.

What is the minimum repayment threshold?

It is A$54,869 for the 2016-17 income year. If you earn above this amount, you have to make an overseas levy repayment.

What if my worldwide income is under the minimum HELP and TSL repayment threshold?

While you still need to submit your income details to the ATO, you will not need to make an overseas levy repayment.

Can I arrange to pay off my debt before I go overseas?

Yes. The Paying Back My Loan tab at the top of this page has general information to guide you.

If you want to reduce your debt, you can make voluntary repayments at any time to reduce the balance of your loan. Further information about making a voluntary repayment is available on the ATO website at: www.ato.gov.au/voluntaryrepay.

What if I can’t afford to make a repayment while I’m overseas?

If you earn above the minimum repayment threshold but making an overseas levy repayment would cause you serious financial hardship, you can apply to the ATO to defer your levy.

Visit the ATO's deferring repayments webpage for more information about applying for a deferment.

Remember, that while you must advise the ATO of your worldwide income while overseas, if it is below the minimum repayment threshold you won’t have to make an overseas levy repayment.

When do the overseas levy repayment obligations start?

They begin from 1 July 2017.

So, if you have a HELP or TSL debt you will need to report the worldwide income in the 2016-17 Australian income year to the ATO. If it is above the minimum HELP repayment threshold, the ATO will raise an overseas levy repayment.

Your return can be lodged and repayments made using ATO’s online services via myGov.

Lodgements are due by 31 October each year in the same way as an Australian resident lodging their tax return. If you lodge your return via a registered Australian tax agent, your lodgement date is that of the tax agent.

Will I have to repay my HELP or TSL debt if I live in........?

Yes. There are no exceptions.

Whichever country you choose to reside in, you will have to repay your HELP or TSL debt if you earn above the minimum repayment threshold. These obligations start from 1 July 2017.

I have an existing HELP debt. Do these obligations apply to me?

Yes. These new repayment arrangements will apply both to new and existing HELP debts – incurred before 1 July 2017 – including: HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP, VET FEE-HELP, VET Student Loans, SA-HELP and OS-HELP.

The repayment arrangements also apply to Trade Support Loan (TSL) debts.

I have been living overseas for 10 years and haven’t had to make repayments. Do I have to start now?

Yes, if you have a HELP or TSL debt and your worldwide income exceeds the minimum repayment threshold.

From 1 July 2017, you will be required to report your worldwide income to the ATO and an overseas repayment levy may be raised.

Please update your contact information in ATO’s online services via myGov before 1 July 2017.

To find out more, visit: www.ato.gov.au/overseasobligations.

What if I am an Australian resident for tax purposes while overseas?

You continue to lodge an Australian tax return and make compulsory HELP repayments based on your repayment income.

All Australians who live overseas but remain an Australian resident for tax purposes must lodge an Australian tax return.

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