TFN or Tax File Number is a unique number assigned to citizens, permanent visitors, or temporary visitors in Australia. You are eligible for a TFN if you are born in the country, working on labour visa, or an international student. This is a complete guide to understanding and using TFN, answering your every question. 

What’s the Purpose of TFN?

TFN helps the government understand your financial resources so you can be taxed accordingly. It’s assigned to you by the Australian Taxation Office, and it stays with you for the rest of your life as a part of your identity. All your taxes will be calculated and charged on this unique number. 

What if You Don’t Get One?

A TFN is not compulsory, but you’ll have to pay more tax if you don’t get one. It makes it difficult for the government to understand your resources and process tax returns. You can’t lodge your tax electronically nor do you qualify for government benefits without a TFN. If you are foreign resident, you won’t be able to submit a PAYG FRWV application. Moreover, you need to have a Tax File Number if you plan to start a business because you won’t get an ABN (Australian Business Number) without it. 

How to Apply for it?

Applying for TFN is as easy as it can get. It requires only three steps, and you can do it online. If you are moving to Australia, you’ll have to first settle in the country before applying for it. There are also a few conditions for TFN applicants that you should read at Here’s what you need to do. 

  • Fill the Australia TFN registration form
  • Let them review your application
  • Wait for confirmation and delivery

Who Can Ask for Your TFN?

As TFN is a unique number with many records linked to it, it shouldn’t be given to anyone other than authorized individuals and organizations. Your employer, financial institute, bank, and Australian Taxation Office can ask for it. However, all of them, including ATO can do so only under specific conditions. It is safe to provide your TFN when:

  • Lodging a tax return
  • Joining a super fund
  • Applying for income assistance
  • Receiving a loan from Higher Education Loan Program
  • Starting a new job
  • Earning income from investment or savings

How to Protect it?

There can be an issue of identity theft if your TFN gets into the wrong hands. It’s just as important as any passport or credit card. Some people might also use it for marketing purposes. It is your responsibility to make sure it always stays safe. If you believe that an individual or organisation has misused your TFN, you should contact them and wait about 30 days for an explanation. If they fail to satisfy you, lodge an online complaint at the website of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC). It is your right by law if you don’t want to share your TFN. If someone asks and you need to provide it, be sure to ask for an explanation beforehand.