What is a tax file number?
A Tax File Number – sometimes shortened to TFN – is a unique ID number that you get from the government. It’s used for your tax return, benefit payments and superannuation services. You also need it to apply for an Australian Business Number and to complete a bank account application.
Keep it safe!
Your 9-digit TFN is unique to you, so you should never let anyone else use it. It is very private. There’s generally no reason to let anyone ever see your Tax File Number, except in a few cases we’ll cover below.
It’s very important to keep your Tax File Number safe because in the wrong hands it can be used to commit identity theft or fraud in your name.
Your TFN is sort of like your drivers license – it is YOURS and it is private. Don’t lose it, and don’t let other people have it.
When do I need a tax file number?
You need a Tax File Number as soon as you start work at any job. It’s better to register for one before you actually start your new job to make sure you can provide the number to your new employer on your first day. Your employer could tax you at a higher rate than you should be if you haven’t given it to them.
Tax File Number Declaration Form
Each new employer gives you a Tax File Number Declaration Form to complete when you start. You provide your TFN to your employer in this form. It also asks questions about your residency status and other tax related questions. Your employer will use this information to work out how much tax you should pay.
NOTE: Be sure to select ‘Yes’ to the question “Do you want to claim the tax-free threshold from the payer?”
You are entitled to earn a tax-free amount each year of $18,200. If you don’t tick the box you’ll end up paying more tax than you should.
More than one job?
It’s important to understand that you should only claim this tax-free threshold amount from one employer in any given year! If you claim it from multiple employers, you won’t pay enough tax during the year and you could end up with a tax bill to pay back at tax time!
Do I need a tax file number for anything else?
There are a few other instances you might need your tax file number. The most common ones are:
- If you need claim government allowances or benefits, like Family Tax Benefit and other Centrelink payments.
- If you need to open a new bank account.
- Applying for an Australian Business Number.
How do I apply for a tax file number? What is the TFN application process?
You can submit a Tax File Number application online on the government’s myGov website or in person at a post office.
You can also ask your tax agent to do a TFN application for you.
There is no charge if you make the application yourself. Once processed, you receive it in the mail, so make sure to provide a correct, safe mailing address.
How long does it take to get a TFN?
The ATO should notify you within 10 days of your application but it may take up to 28 for you to receive your tax file number.
How do I find my Tax File Number?
Over time, people lose track of where they put the original letter they received. It often gets buried in the safe place under the stairs, at the back of the filing cabinet or perhaps ends up in a box after a move. Luckily, there are other ways to find it:
- If you use etax.com.au just log into your account, open any tax return and you’ll see your Tax File Number at the the top of the form.
Other ways to find your TFN:
- The Notice of Assessment letter you receive from the ATO once you’ve lodged your tax return.
- Superannuation statements
- Your payslips
- Ask your employer
- Check with your bank
- Contact the ATO
What to do if my TFN is lost or stolen?
Did someone steal or see your TFN? If so, contact the ATO as soon as possible.
As we mentioned earlier; your number is unique to you and it is very private. If you think it was revealed to someone else, or stolen somehow, don’t hang around and don’t just forget about it. It could end up getting you into debt, or worse.
My tax agent asked me to email my Tax File Number. Is that ok?
The short answer is NO! The long answer is NOT EVER!
Your tax agent should never, under any circumstances, ask you to send your TFN by email. Nor should they request that you fax it to them or write the number down anywhere. If you see them doing this, call them out on it immediately. It’s very bad practice and puts your privacy at risk. Why? Because, if anyone ever gets access to your email, or the other person’s email – even years later – they could find your TFN and use that to try to scam you.
At Etax, you type your Tax File Number directly into our secure online tax return. The Etax online form is locked and encrypted to protect your TFN and your privacy. Your security and the security of all your information is always our #1 priority.