If you’re lucky enough to have attained a skilled visa to work in Australia or have an employer sponsorship or have even been granted permanent residency, you’ll probably be excited but a little apprehensive about what working ‘Down Under’ is actually like. Here are some tips to help you on your way.
Get your Tax File Number
Before you start your job in Australia, you should apply for a tax file number (TFN). This can be done online through the Australian Taxation office. Every person working in Australia, even if they are just short-term residents need a TFN.
If you are an employee in Australia and your salary is above the tax threshold, you will need to pay tax. The rates for resident individual taxpayers are different to non-resident taxpayers. The current tax-free threshold for resident individuals is AUD$18 200 and the highest marginal rate for individuals is 45%. In addition most Australians are liable to pay the Medicare (state health care) levy. Income tax is normally withheld from wages and salaries in Australia and if you are unable to provide a TFN, payers are required to withhold tax at the rate of 47%
Planning for pensions/superannuation
When you are living and working in Australia, you will become entitled to some form of pension. Only permanent residents who have worked in Australia for at least ten years will become eligible to receive the Age Pension (a means-tested payment) once they reach retirement age.
If you are working in Australia you will also have a retirement savings account called a Superannuation Fund. The ‘Super’ has been hailed by experts around the world as being the “most adequate pension fund in the world”. As an Australian employee, you will have to pay a minimum of 9.5% of your income into the Super. If you are only a temporary resident, you can claim your Departing Australian Super at any time, provided you have left the country.
Australian work etiquette
Australians have a strong work ethic and hard work is respected and expected. Always arrive on time at your workplace and for meetings. Lateness is frowned upon in Australia. It is customary to shake hands when meeting someone at work in Australia – whether they are male or female. It is also customary to address someone by their first names and to treat everyone with the same equal amount of respect. As hard work is appreciated in Australia, many people may choose to work longer than 5.30pm. Get a feel for how your company operates. If your organisation expects their staff to work a bit later, put in an extra half hour – you don’t want to get a reputation as a “clock watcher”.
If you are a South African working in Australia and would like to know more about how you can maximise your finances through financial emigration, accessing your South African retirement annuity and our tailor-made tax solutions for South Africans around the world, contact FinGlobal today.