Repayment of HECS-HELP and TSL Debts while Overseas
Significant changes come into effect in 2016 with respect to the liability of Australian expatriates to continue the repayment of any HECS-HELP and TSL debts, on much the same basis as is they had remained resident in Australia. Previously, debts would have remained outstanding and not liable for payment until an expat became resident again in Australia. These changes apply to both individuals heading overseas, and those already resident outside of Australia. We have summarised the main requirements below, and provided a link to the ATO website for more details:
1. If you live outside Australia and have either have a HECS-HELP debt or Trade Support Loan (TSL) debt, you now have the same repayment obligations as those who live in Australia. This applies if you already live or intend to move overseas for a total of more than six months in any 12-month period.
2. From 1 January 2016, it has been a requirement that you update your contact details through MyGov within seven days of leaving Australia. If you already resided overseas, then there was an obligation to update your details no later than 1 July 2017.
3. From 1 July 2017, if you are living overseas and earning an income that exceeds the minimum repayment threshold, you will be required to make compulsory repayments towards your debt.
4. Changes in the 2017 Federal Budget resulted in the introduction of a lower repayment threshold.
The ATO page below provides some significant detail in terms of how to prepare the required income statements and there is an understanding that different countries will have different tax years. You will either need to request an extract from the payroll department of your employer, seeking income from July 1 to June 30, or base your statement on your monthly salary statements.
Secondly, note that within the above-referenced there is a link at the bottom of the page to a foreign currency calculator which will convert your foreign income to AUD.