Mind the Gap - Tax for teens

The Australian Tax Office Changes Application Process for Tax File Numbers

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Applying for a Tax File Number ATO

Changes at the Australian Tax Office came into effect at the beginning of 2015, disbanding the older and simpler system for teenagers acquiring an Australian Tax File Number and gaining employment.

The old process utilised the school system and school records to distribute TFNs across Australia as youth came of age to work. Students were not required to perform any action, nor their parents. Schools can no longer obtain TFNs on behalf of their students.

To apply, the new system now requires every young Australian to personally complete an online form, followed by booking and attending an interview at their local Australia Post with several forms of ID. The new process adds new demands to parents as they guide their teens to their first employment, and to teenagers themselves as they learn the skills of adult life in addition to their academic studies. By decentralising the application process from the education system, Australia continues to takes steps away from standardising and adopting basic life skills as part of its education program.

As of term one, 2015, the in-school online program Mind the Gap has been upgraded to include the step-by-step process of ‘how to apply for a Tax File Number’ under the new system, including the whats, whys, and hows of using and keeping the number safe.

The ATO’s new process, now more time-consuming, raises again the age-old issue of teaching self-administration, employment and taxation skills to maturing youth. Without understanding how and why a Tax File Number is an important tool as an Australian worker, without understanding the systems that manage our nation and one’s obligations under these systems, many are unable to manage themselves into the future. Every year, young Australians are systematically lost in a mess of years of incomplete tax returns, unclaimed refunds and/or deductions, and an illegal lack of record-keeping leading to fines and audits in years to come.

The absence of an education in these essential self-administrative obligations incurs a significant loss of time and money, and causes long-term disillusionment with the unnecessarily-taboo administrative systems of our nation. For decades we, as individuals, as an educational system and and as a people, we have put taxation in the ‘too-hard’ basket. It’s doesn’t need to be so. The need-to-know basics of tax can be understood by every reasonable Australian with the correct educational resource. Our tax situation doesn’t need to feel out of control.

With clean and comical animation, the advent of Mind the Gap guides youth through the TFN application process, and, as always, offers a sound understanding of all things tax.