Tax File Number: How do I apply for it? 

By Kaleem Ulah

July 4, 2024


If you stay in Australia, you have probably heard about tax file numbers for one or two reasons. Your Tax File Number (also known as a TFN) will be required of anyone who has ever started new employment, applied for government benefits, or filed a personal income tax return. If you are like the rest of us and have been working for a very long time, you probably can’t remember when or how you obtained your TFN; all you know is that you have one. 

On the other hand, the financial and administrative repercussions can be significant for business owners and individuals who do not own a Tax File Number (TFN) or for organisations that employ staff members who do not possess a TFN. In this article, we will share all the information you need to know about Tax File Numbers, including how to apply for one, their impact on businesses, and the importance of having one.

What is a tax file number? 

A Tax File Number (TFN) is a nine-digit identification number provided by The Australian Taxation Office. This Australian tax number is unique and just for you. It is a crucial piece of information that stays with you throughout your entire life, despite any changes in employment or personal circumstances that may occur. It also serves as a personal reference number for your tax-related matters in Australia. Your Tax File Number (TFN) is required to track and manage your tax liabilities accurately. When beginning a new employment, opening a bank account, submitting an application for government assistance, or managing your superannuation, you are expected to provide it.

The TFN is private information that must be kept safe at all times. Because it contains sensitive personal information, it is essential that you only share it with authorised entities to preserve your privacy and avoid the possibility of identity theft or misuse of the information. This tax file number makes it easier for the ATO to precisely match your tax records and guarantees that you will receive the appropriate tax treatment and entitlements.

You can get in touch with the ATO directly if you need clarification about your TFN or assistance. Alternatively, you can access your TFN using your myGov account. To protect the confidentiality of your personal information, it is essential to exercise caution when handling your Tax File Number (TFN), to retain it in a safe location, and to refrain from disclosing it to unapproved parties or transmitting it through unprotected channels.

Who can ask for your tax file number? 

Your Tax File Number (TFN) can only be requested by a limited number of people, organisations, or government bodies, such as the following examples:

  • The ATO 
  • Your employer
  • Banking and other forms of financial management institutions 
  • The Department of Human Services can ask for your TFN if you do receive personal assistance payments
  • Providers of retirement savings accounts and superannuation funds.

Check with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) if you need clarification on whether the person, organisation, or agency requesting your TFN is authorised to do so. Any person, organisation, or government entity authorised to request information about your TFN must comply with the TFN Rule. They are not permitted to record, collect, use, or pass on your TFN unless the applicable laws allow them to do so for taxation, personal aid, or superannuation.

4 Importance of a Tax File Number

Getting your tax file offers many opportunities for you as an Australian. You will be required to present it at any important location. Below are some of the importance of getting your TFN

4 Importance of a Tax File Number

1. To get a job

When you start a new employment, you must give your employer your TFN. This guarantees that the appropriate amount of tax and superannuation contributions are withheld.

2. To start a business 

A TFN is required before any business can start in Australia. You can use your personal tax file number (TFN) if you run your company as a sole proprietorship. When you apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN), you will also be able to receive a Tax File Number (TFN) for various types of business formations.

3. For your tax return lodgement

When you submit your annual tax return, you need to include your TFN. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) can use this information to match your income and deductions properly.

4. To apply for government benefits 

If you receive government assistance, such as Centrelink payments, you must supply your TFN to ensure that your income is accurately assessed and reported.

How to Apply for a Tax File Number

If you are over 15 and have a valid passport, you can submit an online application for a TFN. You can also apply for citizenship at any site participating in Services Australia or Australia Post by bringing the necessary application form and identifying documents.

Applying as an Australian citizen

If you are an Australian, check off all the boxes on the requirements needed to get a TFN. This is because most institutions conduct a TFN lookup to confirm the accuracy. You do not want to be found with a wrong number. In general, you need to be a resident of Australia or have a valid visa to work or study in Australia.

  • You can obtain a TFN application form by visiting the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website and downloading form NAT 1432. You can also get the form by calling the ATO or through a post office.
  • Get your identification documents ready, such as your passport, birth certificate, or the details of your Australian visa. You should also have proof that you are a resident of Australia.
  • Ensure that the information you provide on the application form is accurate. Check that all parts have been correctly filled out, and then sign the form. You can submit the form and supporting documentation to the ATO in person at an Australia Post shop or by regular mail.
  • After the ATO has received your application, they will process it and mail your TFN to the address in Australia that you gave them on the form. In most cases, this takes between two and four weeks.

Protect your Tax File Number (TFN), and only give it to people authorised to have it. Ensure you only use it for lawful purposes relating to taxes and work.

Applying as an expat

If you are applying for a TFN from within Australia and you have a passport from another country, the method you must follow will be different. If you possess any of the following categories of visa2, you are eligible to apply for a TFN:

  • A visa for permanent immigrants.
  • A visa that allows you to participate in the labour market legally.
  • A visa for international students.
  • A visa that will enable you to stay in Australia for unlimited time (including New Zealand nationals, who are immediately granted a visa on arrival in Australia).

If you have any of these types of visas, you are eligible to apply for your TFN online, and it will be sent to the address you provide in Australia within 28 days of your submission.

Applying outside Australia

Even if you do not currently reside in Australia, you may still be required to have a Tax File Number (TFN) in certain situations. Take, for instance:

  • Obtaining certain sorts of revenue from Australia.
  • If you are required to submit an Australian tax return.
  • To legally operate a business in Australia, you must register it.
  • If you are married to an Australian citizen who wishes to apply for family tax relief and are eligible.

If you are outside of Australia and need to apply for a TFN, you can do so online; however, remember that the paperwork you will need to fill out will differ from those you would use if you were applying from within the country. The ATO website has all that you require.

Applying for an Australian TFN should be easy enough as long as you have all the necessary documentation. On the ATO website, you can find everything you need to use, and if you don't have the time to make the arrangements yourself, you can also pay a charge to have an agent or intermediary apply on your behalf. Once you have your TFN, you will typically pay less tax; hence, regardless of whether you are a resident of Australia or an expat simply staying in the country for a short period, you will have more money to make the most of your time there.

Get Advice from The Kalculators 

In Australia, your Tax File Number (TFN) is analogous to a key opening the door to your maximum earning capacity. Even if it is possible to work without a TFN, you will quickly discover that doing so is far from ideal. Because of this obligation, your employer will be required to deduct the highest possible tax rate from your earnings, which might result in a sizable decrease in the money you receive.If you do not know how to apply for your TFN, it is better to seek the help of a professional. If you are in Australia, The Kalculators can help get your tax file number quickly and seamlessly. The Kalculators also offers guidance and support in all aspects of taxation, including tax filing numbers (TFNs). We employ highly experienced experts who can offer guidance adapted to your circumstances and address your worries. Whether you're just starting a business or need assistance with a tax issue, you can get in touch for professional financial advice.


Finally, hiring a skilled bookkeeper for tax time is a good idea. Professional bookkeepers know how to help you succeed financially and feel at ease. They can help you keep correct records, follow tax laws, plan your taxes, save time, and feel less stressed. They can also help you be more productive, get better financial advice, and save money. You can focus on growing your business, making smart choices, and saving as much money as possible if you hire someone to do your bookkeeping. Now is the time to take your business to the next level and use the many benefits of The Kalculators bookkeeping services. Hire us right now to start getting benefits, not during tax season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need a tax file number?

You need a TFN to avoid paying more tax than required. In addition to this, it might assist you in finding a job or filing your tax return. There is no need to reapply for a TFN after it has been issued to you; you can keep using it regardless of whether or not your circumstances change.  

What Will Happen If I Don’t Get a Tax File Number?

Even while it is possible to reside in Australia without a TFN, doing so will prevent you from doing much more than just submitting your annual tax returns to the Australian government (which is required of everybody who earns income). Here are the possible repercussions of not getting your ATO tax file number.

  • Most importantly, your overall tax burden will increase.
  • You can’t reside, work, or attend school in Australia for an extended period without a Tax File Number.
  • Your tax returns cannot be processed online, making it significantly more challenging to fulfil your tax duties. Additionally, you risk missing out on the opportunity to receive a refund from the government, even if the money is rightfully yours to receive.
  • You won't be eligible for any of the government's benefits.
  • The ATO tax file number lookup will become challenging. 
  • You cannot apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN). Therefore, you might be unable to start a new business.
  • You will be subject to a higher tax rate on the superannuation payments made by your employer, and your super fund will be unable to accept any voluntary contributions made by you.
  • It will not be possible for you to apply for a PAYG foreign resident withholding variation.

How much does it cost to get my tax file number?

Applying for a TFN does not cost any money. Certain third-party organisations will try to offer services to manage the process for you in exchange for a fee. However, this is not from the ATO, and the decision is solely yours to make. The procedure is simple and does not require a significant amount of time.

How long will I wait before getting my tax file number?

After you have applied for a Tax File Number, you should get it within the next 28 days. However, this will depend on the intricacy of your application, and in some cases, it may be sooner, while in other cases, it may take a little bit longer. Do not reapply for a TFN if it has been more than 28 days since you submitted your initial application. This will only result in greater levels of misunderstanding and data conflicts, which will take significantly more time to address.

Do I have to give my tax file number when asked?

It is not required by law for you to show your Tax File Number (TFN) to any person, organisation, or government agency that has the legal right to make such a request. On the other hand, if you do not provide them with your TFN, there may be financial repercussions. If you do not provide your Tax File Number (TFN) to your employer, bank, or superannuation fund, you may be required to pay the highest marginal tax rate on any income or interest payments you receive. If you provide your TFN, you can avoid having your eligibility for personal assistance payments (such as pensions, benefits, or allowances) revoked.

Before handing over a document that includes your TFN, you can either cross it out or remove it before handing it over to the person who requested the paper. You can do this even if the person, organisation, or agency asking for the document is authorised to acquire your Taxpayer Identification Number (TFN).

How do I find my tax file number when lost or stolen?

We all lose something at a point in time in our lives. Relax and take a deep breath if you can't find your Tax File Number (TFN). The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has processes that can assist you in regaining access to your TFN. You can contact them directly, and once they have confirmed your identification, they will help you retrieve your Tax File Number (TFN).

Your TFN, on the other hand, does not change in any way. Therefore, this is an important fact to keep in mind. Your Taxpayer Identification Number will not change no matter what happens to your name or residency status. You are not required to submit an application for a new one or ask for a change. Because you will always have the same TFN, the ATO can rely on it as a reliable form of identification.


About the Author / By Kaleem Ulah

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Kaleem is CEO & Author at "The Kalculators". With more than 10 years of experience in financial services, He built Kalculators to transform your financial challenges into strategic triumphs!



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