tax file number - TFN

What is a Tax File Number?

A Tax File Number is a unique personal identifier reference number issued by the Australian Tax Office to each tax-paying entity.

All money-making entities in Australia must obtain a valid TFN before commencing any income-generating activities. These entities include individuals, businesses, trusts, superfunds, etc.

Key attributes of a TFN

  • Unique to each entity
  • Usually, an 8–9-digit number
  • Your digital identity in ATO records
  • Valid for the life
  • Assist ATO with identifying any payments made by or to an entity.

Who needs a TFN?

Anyone who has a valid source of income. For example, if you are going to apply for a job or start a business, you need a valid TFN.

ATO requires all Australian citizens or temporary residents who intend to engage in any income-generating economic activity to obtain a valid TFN. Income is reported against this tax file number, and a tax amount is withheld at the source.

Eligibility criteria for a TFN for Australian residents

  • Be born in Australia or can produce a citizenship certificate
  • Be at least 15 years old – can do earlier too
  • Have a valid Australian passport
  • At least one Australian identity document, for example, a driver’s licence

Eligibility criteria for a TFN for Temporary Visitors or Visa holders

  • Have a valid Australian visa
  • Have a valid foreign passport and identification documents
  • Already present in Australia at the time of application
  • Have obtained a valid visa that is either
    • A permanent resident visa
    • Visa with working right –  working holiday visa etc
    • An overseas student visa
    • Visa allowing to stay indefinitely in Australia (including New Zealanders)

How much does it cost to apply for TFN?

It is entirely free to apply for a TFN.

However, you might find a few service agents that can charge you up to AUD 100 for the application fee.

How to apply for a TFN?

Please follow the guidelines in the videos below to apply for a tax file number.

TFN application for Australian residents

Australian residents with valid Australian passports can apply for a TFN using myGovID.

TFN application for temporary residents in Australia

Foreign passport holders, immigrants and temporary visa holders can apply for a TFN using Individual Auto Registration (IAR).

Please be aware you need to have a valid passport or relevant travel documents to be able to apply for a TFN. If you don’t have a valid visa, you cannot apply for a TFN.

TFN withholding tax? What if you don’t have a TFN?

Well, you can still do without obtaining a TFN from ATO. Can still work or do business. However, the downside is that you would have to incur the highest marginal tax rate.

It stands at 47% as of the financial year 2022-23, and it would not be a pleasant sight to lose nearly half of your payment to tax withheld.  

A few drawbacks of not getting a TFN

  • The highest marginal withholding tax rate
  • Unable to register an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • Cannot access government benefits or allowances, such as Centrelink
  • Unable to lodge tax return online

When will I get my TFN?

Australian residents who have applied for a new TFN using myGovID can receive the TFN straight away.

Foreign passport holders and temporary visitors may take up to 28 days after receiving the application. Usually, the processing time is around 10 days.

However, if you are still waiting for your TFN and it’s been over 28 days, please contact ATO.

For more information regarding different Tax Related queries, feel free to check out our knowledge base category and improve your knowledge regarding Tax in Australia.