Overseas debt

Recovery of overseas HELP and TSL debts

What is the Australian Government doing?

The Australian Government has implemented arrangements for the repayment of Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) and Trade Support Loan (TSL) debts by Australians who are living overseas and earning above the repayment threshold.

People who are overseas with a HELP or TSL debt will be required to make repayments from 1 July 2017 based on their world-wide income for the 2016‑17 financial year onwards. This will bring repayment obligations for overseas income earners in line with people with a HELP or TSL debt who are in Australia and who earn above the repayment threshold. For the 2015-16 financial year, this threshold is AUD $54,126.

What do I need to do?

From 1 January 2016, all people with a HELP or TSL debt who exit Australia with the intention to work overseas for more than 6 months in a 12 month period will be required to notify the Australian Tax Office (ATO) using their myGov account (find out how to create a myGov account at the ATO website).

People with a HELP or TSL debt who are already overseas at this time will have until 1 July 2017 to notify the ATO. From 1 July 2017, people with a HELP or TSL debt will need to self-assess the income they have received in the 2016-17 financial year and submit the details of their world-wide income to the ATO. Self-assessment will be due by 31 October each year in the same way as tax returns of Australian residents. Returns will be submitted and payments made through the ATO online via the myGov account (opens in a new window). For more information see the ATO webpage Study and Training Support Loans (opens in a new window).

Why is it important?

Overseas HELP debt repayment obligations will create a fairer system that ensures all people with a HELP or TSL debt are treated the same – no matter where they choose to live and earn. Until now, people who took out a HELP or TSL loan and moved overseas were under no obligation to repay their debt as long as they remained offshore residents. By recovering debts from people who are overseas with a HELP or TSL debt, the Government will save more than $150 million over the ten years to 2024‑25 in fiscal balance terms. This will improve the sustainability of our important HELP scheme by helping reduce the cost of HELP to the taxpayer, and encouraging borrowers to pay off their debt sooner.

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Who does this decision impact?

This decision will impact Australians with a HELP or TSL debt who intend to go overseas for 6 months or more or who already work overseas and earn above the repayment threshold. People with a HELP or TSL debt, both new and existing (i.e. whether you have finished studying or not), will be affected by the overseas repayment obligations.

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For further information on the changes to HELP repayment obligations, see Overseas debts - FAQs page.

Visit the Department of Education and Training's Media Centre (opens in a new window) to view the Minister's announcement.

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