Mind the Gap - Tax for teens

Script 4 - What is a Tax File Number?

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Some years ago, the Australian government introduced a new filing system to simplify taxation. Every citizen was given a Tax File Number.

Let’s say you’re the Australian government. Can you imagine the amount of paperwork required to keep track of everyone in Australia? It’s messy business. You need a system. So, you give every Australian a number, called a Tax File Number, or TFN.

All their documentation is stored under their number.
When their boss pays their taxes out of their pay check, it’ll be recorded under that number.Every time they fill out a tax document, they use that number, and whenever the Tax Office needs your files, they look them up under that number.

That means that anyone who wants to work or earn money should have a TFN. A tax file number. Every tax file number is totally unique, and belongs entirely to that person. No one will ever have the same number as you, and no one person needs two. Whilst names, addresses, contact information and jobs change, the tax file number stays the same. That’s why it’s so useful.

Without it, your boss is going to take almost half your pay check and give it to the tax office. That’s the rule. You see, without a way of recording your earnings, they aren’t sure how much tax you have to pay, so they take as much as they can. Unless you have a TFN, you’re taxed the highest possible rate. And not only that, you might miss out on other things. Because the TFN is so useful for identifying a person and all their records, it’s used for more than just tax.

Centrelink uses the TFN, as does your superannuation account, and even certain debts like university debts can be managed by a tax file number.

The TFN is a very useful number for every Australian. But it can also be dangerous. A lot of people use someone else’s tax file number to steal their identity. That’s why it’s so important to keep it secret and safe at all times.

Who do you think you should and shouldn’t give the number to? There’s no reason for your friends to have your TFN. What about your boss when you get a new job? It is a standard thing for an employer to ask for, for tax purposes. You can expect him to ask for it. I’m fact, if he didn’t ask then you might think something was wrong.

The easiest way to apply for a TFN is online through the ATO website, and then booking an appointment with your local post office to verify your identity. Once you’ve had your interview at the post office, you’ll be issued with a TFN. There are instructions on the ATO website, but I can walk you through the process. It’s quite simple, and it won’t take too long.

Check this out. Okay, step one: Go to ato.gov.au
From here, you can find ‘get a tax file number’ and ‘apply online’. Go through the form, which will ask you about your identity and will ask you to agree to a declaration.

Step two: Print this out, and after that, you can (step three) go to the Australia post website. At auspost.com.au, you can book an appointment at your local post office.

Step four, attend the appointment, and bring along your printed TFN application that you made online, and bring some identification.

So, a quick word on IDs. You should bring along one primary form, and two secondary forms of ID. Some primary forms include your Aussie birth certificate, your passport, or your citizenship certificate if you were born overseas. Secondary forms of ID can include a Medicare card, bank account statement or a student card. If you are under 16, you may only need one form of secondary identification.