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What is a tax file number?

Often referred to as a TFN, a tax file number is important for all Australians – and not just for tax purposes. Whether you have one or need one, here’s the lowdown on tax file numbers in Australia.

What is a TFN?

A tax file number is a 9-digit number provided to you by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). It’s a unique reference number that is used as part of your super and tax records. It is recommended that you always keep your TFN secure.

Why do I need one?

According to the ATO website, you don’t have to have a TFN but there are a number of reasons why you’ll want one. First of all, you may be required to pay more tax if you don’t have one and you’ll be unable to lodge your tax return electronically.

You’ll also be unable to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN), which is required for most small business owners. You may also have trouble interacting with a number of Australian government agencies, or applying for assistance, such as HECS-HELP or support payments through Centrelink.

How do I get one?

Thankfully, there are a number of easy ways you can apply for a TFN, but you will be required to lodge a formal application.

The easiest way to lodge a TFN application is via Australia Post. You will need to complete an online form and then attend an interview within 30 days. You will be required to present your proof of identity documents, along with your completed form, at the interview.

Alternatively, if you’re a Department of Human Services (Centrelink) customer, you can apply at a Centrelink centre. You will need to complete a TFN form, which you can order online or by phone, and then make an appointment at your local centre. When you attend, be sure to take your completed form and proof of identity documents with you.

If you can’t attend an interview via Australia Post or Centrelink, you can submit your TFN application by post. You will need to order a form online or via phone, fill it out and then post it to the address listed on the form, along with certified copies of your identification documents.

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