‘Backpacker tax’ may not apply to some backpackers

December 3, 2021 | Robyn Bull

The High Court has held that the ‘working holiday maker tax’ (also known as the ‘backpackers tax’) did not apply to a taxpayer on a working holiday visa from the United Kingdom who was also an Australian tax resident, due to the application of the Double Tax Agreement between Australia and the United Kingdom.

The ATO has responded to this High Court decision, noting that it is only relevant where a working holiday maker is both an Australian resident for tax purposes and from Chile, Finland, Japan, Norway, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Germany or Israel.

Working holiday makers who may potentially be affected by this decision are encouraged to check the ATO website for updated guidance prior to lodging or amending a return or lodging an objection.

Employers should continue to follow rates in the published withholding tables for working holiday makers until the ATO updates its website with further guidance.

The ATO notes that a working holiday maker’s residency status for tax purposes is determined by the taxpayer’s individual circumstances, but most working holiday makers will be non-residents (consistent with their purpose of being in Australia to have a holiday and working to support that holiday).












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