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A bank of ATMs

BANK ON EXPERTS! When ‘everyone’ says Sydney is an expensive city to live in, it pays to listen.

BANKS & MONEY

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has an amazingly awesome website at www.fido.asic.gov.au that provides a wealth of financial information and consumer advice. Go have a look!

The Australian Bankers Institute also has a useful site for understanding the local banking systems – http://www.bankers.asn.au – and they have an online guide, ‘Smarter Banking – Making the Most of your Money’, which aims to de-mystify the process of setting up an account:  http://www.bankers.asn.au/Default.aspx?ArticleID=675

The local currency is the Australian dollar ($), which is worth 100 cents. Coins come in 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, while note denominations are $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.

www.commbank.com.au – Commonwealth Bank

www.national.com.au – National Australia Bank (NAB)

www.anz.com.au – ANZ Bank

www.westpac.com.au – Westpac Bank

www.stgeorge.com.au – St George Bank

TAX

A Tax File Number (TFN) is required to receive an income (salary, government payment, investments and interest on savings) in Australia. Apply online at www.ato.org.au (passport details and an Australian address is mandatory), phone the Australian Tax Office (ATO) on 13 28 61 for an application form or apply in person at the following ATO ‘shopfront locations’:

Region Shopfront address
Albury-Wodonga 567 Smollett Street
Albury NSW 2640
Chatswood Ground floor
501 Victoria Avenue
Chatswood NSW 2067
Hurstville 38 Humphreys Lane
Hurstville NSW 2220
Newcastle 266 King Street
Newcastle NSW 2300
Parramatta Commonwealth Offices
2-12 Macquarie Street
Parramatta NSW 2123
Sydney CBD 2 Lang Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Wollongong 93-99 Burelli Street
Wollongong NSW 2500

The Australian tax year (or ‘financial year’) runs from 1 July to 30 June and tax returns must be lodged with the ATO between 30 June and 31 October each year.

Australia has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10 percent on most items, already included in the asking price. However, GST-free zones include basic food, most education and health services, eligible child care and nursing home care.

Business owners need an Australian Business Number (ABN) for dealings with the Australian Taxation Office and other businesses. For more information, call the ATO Business infoline on 13 2866 or go to www.ato.org.au

A word of warning to immigrants: Australian residents are taxed on their worldwide income (including rental properties, royalties and interest) and must declare all foreign income in their income tax return, even if tax has already been taken out in the country where the income was earned (do check your eligibility for a foreign tax credit). Whether or not you are a resident of Australia for tax purposes is determined on a case by case basis. If in doubt, seek specialist advice.

SUPERANNUATION

“Super” is the government’s compulsory retirement savings scheme and your employer is required by law to pay 9% of your earnings into a superannuation fund of your choice. For more info, call the Australian Tax Office Superannuation infoline on 13 1020 or go to www.ato.gov.au/super

It took me a bit of digging, but here is a list of super fund providers: http://www.superannuation.asn.au/Alphabetical/default.aspx and the wonderful Fido at ASIC – www.fido.asic.gov.au – is also a mine of super info.

THE LAFHA

Because of the higher cost of living in Sydney, a form of tax rebate/subsidy is available to newbies from overseas and interstate. It’s called the Living Away From Home Allowance (LAFHA) and it essentially contributes towards your rental accommodation by providing a refund from your taxed income. We implore you to explore this before you make the final decision to shift to Sydney. Seek specialist advice after going here for starters: http://www.ato.gov.au/government/content.asp?doc=/content/76126.htm&page=17&H17


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