Understanding tax system in australia

Understanding tax system in australia

Understanding tax system in australia
Pratima NeupaneThu Nov 24 2022

A successful tax system generates the funds required to support government operations without adding unneeded burdens to the economy. Reforming taxes is not just about raising more money; it's also about how.

Australia has a comparatively low overall tax burden compared to wealthy nations and regional rivals. In Australia, the federal government collects about 81% of all tax revenue. Transfer payments from the federal government, including all GST money, account for 45% of the income state and territorial governments receive.

Compared to wealthy nations and some regional rivals, Australia depends greatly on personal and corporate income taxes. This dependence is anticipated to develop even further, partly due to rising incomes and average individual tax rates.

The Australian Government collects significant corporate taxes through the Australian Tax Office, including income tax (ATO). In other cases, national taxes are also applicable, the most prominent example of payroll taxes. To avoid double taxation of foreign firms operating in Australia, Australia has a variety of taxation agreements with other countries.

Why pay tax in Australia?

  • For most governments, taxes are their primary source of income. 
  • This money is used for various purposes, including funding public services like schools, emergency services, and social programs, as well as enhancing and maintaining public infrastructure, including the highways we use to get around.
  • The collective taxes fund community services such as healthcare, education, emergency services, welfare, and disaster relief.

Composition of Australian Taxes

Income Tax

The nation's primary income source is income tax on individuals. It has continuously raised about half of the tax revenues received by the Australian government since the middle of the 1970s and has been a reliable and steady source of income.

Australia's progressive income tax system has a high tax-free level followed by lower tax rates at higher thresholds. This implies that those with high incomes are the ones who pay the most income tax.

Individual income taxes have a relatively small impact on how many people choose to work. It may be more deceptive for some taxpayer groups, such as low-income earners, family members who have a second income, or high-income earners who have the means to organize their tax affairs.

Tax on Savings

The existing tax system in Australia applies different taxes to different types of savings. As a result, savings are held in housing and pension to a greater extent than they otherwise would be.

Uncertainty surrounds the tax system's impact on the overall level of domestic savings. Taxation's impact on personal savings is unlikely to impact Australia's general investment level substantially.

This shows that taxing savings income is (at least partly) a practical approach to raising money. To counteract any barriers to entry to saving, however, a certain degree of favorable tax treatment for protection may be necessary.

Business Tax

With increased foreign investment rivalry and corporate mobility, taxes are becoming more and more significant. Particularly in the Asia-Pacific area, Australia's corporate tax rate is high compared to many of its rivals.

Although businesses are responsible for paying corporate tax, shareholders, customers, and employees ultimately bear the cost. Increased levels of investment would be encouraged in Australia by a more competitive company tax environment, which would eventually enhance employment and incomes for all Australians.

The corporate tax structure in Australia is likewise very complicated. Artificial distinctions built into the system frequently lead to unexpected biases in favor of certain investment types, skew corporate decisions, and raise the incentives for intricate tax preparation.

State Tax

Like most federations around the world, state and territory governments in Australia (including local governments) pay more than they earn in revenue. Grants from the Australian Government make up the shortfall.

The GST money is distributed to the states and territories. The GST accounts for around 23% of total government income, with state-levied taxes accounting for approximately 31% of total state revenue.

Income tax and stamp fees are the two most crucial state revenue sources. State governments also levy taxes on real estate, casinos, and motor vehicles. Municipal taxes are the sole source of tax revenue for municipal governments.

Indirect taxes

To generate income, it may be adequate to levy indirect taxes on particular products and services.

Unstructured methods, however, have led to several difficulties and contradictions.

Fuel taxes are the most significant source of income from a specific commodity or service.

With 16 different excise categories, there are two different taxation systems for alcohol: a value-based tax for wine goods and a volume-based excise tax for other alcoholic beverages.

The only luxury tax on a particular commodity or service levied by the Australian government has a limited tax base, is complicated, and applies to cars.

Before you start working


If you are a foreign resident planning to work in Australia, you must first obtain approval from the Department of Home Affairs External. You can get important information from Home Affairs, such as which visas authorize you to work in Australia.

Obtain your tax file number

Your confirmation number is your tax file number (TFN). Obtaining a TFN is cost-free.

To avoid paying additional tax, you should obtain a TFN before or soon after beginning employment. The authorized organization provides TFNs to people, companies, and other organizations to identify them and retain records of their transactions.

Australian Business Number (ABN)

An Australian business number (ABN) is optional and available to everyone who wants to work there. If you have an ABN, you can own a business, must pay your taxes to the government, may have to pay for your super, and may not have injury insurance.

While you start working

Tax file number declaration

Your employer will request that you complete a Tax file number declaration before you begin working so that they may obtain your TFN and other personal data.

They use this declaration to determine the amount of tax you must pay. The declaration must be finished and sent to your employer within 28 days. They must deduct tax at the most significant rate possible from your pay if you don't.

When you complete your declaration, you can claim the tax-free amount if you are considered an Australian resident for tax purposes. As a result, you won't pay taxes on your first paycheck of the year.

Pay Tax

Your company withholds taxes from your salary or paycheck and sends them to the tax authority.  Your tax payment amount will be displayed on your paycheck. Your income statement or payment summary will detail your total taxable earnings from your employer at the end of the fiscal year.


Money set aside for retirement throughout your working years is known as superannuation (super). Before beginning new employment, you must comprehend how super operates and understand your rights and entitlements.

Your pay is provided in addition to bonus money. Your employer must make super contributions into a super fund account if you are qualified for superannuation. Most people have a choice in which pension fund their donations go to.

Tax Amount for Australian Residents

Australia levies personal income taxes using a progressive tax scale. With this arrangement, as taxable income rises, the rate of tax that must be paid also rises.

Regarding Australian residents, the below individual income tax rates are applicable:

Taxable Income

Tax Amount

$0 - $18,200


$18,201 - $37,000

19 cents for each $1 over $18,200

$37,001 - $80,000

$3,572 plus 32.5 cents for each $1 over $37,000

$80,001 - $180,000

$17,547 plus 37 cents for each $1 over $80,000

$180,001 and over

$54,547 plus 45 cents for each $1 over $180,000

Tax Amount for Non-Residents

The term "temporary resident" may also apply to non-residents who go to Australia for employment and are considered residents for tax reasons. Temporary residents have additional tax breaks and are subject to the same tax rates as residents.

The following rates apply to non-residents' taxes on income from Australia for the income tax year 2013–2014:

Taxable Income

Tax Amount

$0 - $80,000

32.5 cents for each $1

$80,001 - $180,000

$26,000 plus 37 cents for each $1 over $80,000

$180,001 and over

$63,000 plus 45 cents for each $1 over $180,000

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