Backpackers and Superannuation

Non-residents are entitled to receive a refund of superannuation contributions paid by their ex-employers on their behalf. "Superannuation contributions" is the Australian term for "retirement pension contributions". All employers must contribute a compulsory 9% of wages to an approved superannuation (pension) fund. The backpacker is entitled to a refund of this when he has left the country. However, the refund is subject to a tax-deduction of 30% i.e. the taxpayer receives the refund less 30%.

Application for the refund must be made from outside the country. However, it can now be applied for online from outside the country. The big advantage of applying online is that no additional documents have to be lodged. On the other hand, if a paper application is lodged, then it must be accompanied by a) a copy of the temporary work-permit i.e. a photo-copy of the relevant page of the passport and b) a copy of the exit stamp i.e. a photo-copy of the relevant page of the passport showing that he has exited Australia. The refund must be claimed from the superannuation fund. Whether or not the application is made online or manually, details of superannution funds that the backpacker has contributed to must be provided. The Tax Office maintains a register of lost superannuation accounts i.e. person for whom the superannuation funds have no longer a valid address. It is probable that a quite a few backpackers are on this register. The register may be consulted online at the Tax Office's SuperSeeker site.

Accordingly, before leaving Australia, a backpacker should:
  1. contact all of his former employers, 
  2. from each employer request a tax Payment Summary (Group Certificate) if he has not already received one and also ascertain from the employer:
  • the name of the superannuation fund to which the employer has contributed and b)  the employee membership no., The backpacker should then contact all of the superannuation funds and request from each one a) statement of benefits and 
  • an application form to claim the superannuation refund. Once the application is received from outside Australia, the Fund will normally refund the superannuation money within 28 days.
Let us take an example of a typical backpacker superannuation refund. Fiona earned $5,000 as a fruit picker during her working holiday in Australia. Her employer contributed 9% of $5,000 i.e $450 in superannuation. Fiona will get back $315. i.e. 70% of $450.

Copyright 2014. My Tax Zone.