In Australia, individuals must pay taxes on certain income, such as wages, rental income, bank interest, and dividends, to name a few. Even though you are required to lodge your tax return as an individual you will need to advise the tax office (ATO) if you have a spouse as this can impact your tax return, Family Tax Benefits and Childcare payments. For this reason, you must also notify the ATO when your relationship ends. Your tax file number (TFN) is an important part of your identity and unique to you.
The Tax Office defines a spouse as “another person (of any sex) who:
- you were in a relationship with that was registered under a prescribed state or territory law
- although not legally married to you, lived with you on a
- genuine domestic basis in a relationship as a couple.”
If you experience financial hardship when your relationship ends because of domestic and family violence, contact the ATO Emergency Support Line to let them know the relationship has ended and why. There are several ways the ATO can assist you, including:
- Priority processing of your tax return
- Providing you with assistance to access financial documents
- Giving you early access to your refund
- Extending your debt repayment period
- Deferring compulsory repayments like Higher Education Loan Program (HELP debt)
You may also be eligible for a crisis payment from Centrelink.
If your partner has stolen your Tax File Number (TFN), accessed your MyGov account, or used your tax information illegally, the ATO can assist you to re-establish your identity and monitor any suspicious activity on your account.
Some of the things perpetrators are known to have done with this information include:
- Committing refund fraud
- Illegally applying for government benefits in your name
- Changing your bank account details with the ATO or Centrelink
- Stealing your refund by accessing your MyGov account.
The Government recommends you report any of this activity so they can provide you with the support to protect you and your identity. Please give them your most up-to-date contact details so they can contact you with any vital tax information. If you suspect your partner or former partner is committing fraud, you could also consider reporting this to the police.
Dealing with tax affairs can be overwhelming; you are therefore permitted to nominate someone you trust – like a family member, friend, financial counsellor, or pro bono lawyer from a community legal centre – to speak to the ATO on your behalf about your tax affairs.
The information on the ATO website is translated into various languages for your convenience.