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If you are an expat living in Sydney and decided to go home this year for the holidays you probably spent a fortune on flights and gifts. Not many people know, that there is a tax rebate scheme when you leave Australia. This is mainly useful for tourists, but this time of the year it’s perfect for tourists. When you leave the country you can apply to get a tax refund on your Christmas presents.

It’s that time of the year when Sydney expats split to two; the ones who stay behind to enjoy the beaches and sunshine and the ones who decided to pay the ridiculous flight fares and go home for a proper cold Chrissy, with mulled wine and lots of family time. This year I decided to be the latter. I am sitting at the airport waiting to board my flight to Hungary as I am writing this article.If you are anything like me your suitcase content’s consist of 60% gifts, 30% Tim Tams and 10% clothes (because you are lucky enough to have a sister who is the same size and has an excellent taste in clothes). A friend recently told me about the TRS, and getting ready for coming home for the holiday I realised, that this is a perfect way to get a tax refund on your Christmas presents.

What is the TRS?

The TRS (Tourist Refund Scheme) is a generous gesture of the Australian Government for tourists, but it’s also available for residents. Basically if you buy something in Australia over the value of $300 in the last 60 days, you take it out of the country and won’t bring it back (this is a definition of Christmas presents!!), you get the GST back. If you bought jewellery, electronics, bags or pretty much anything over the minimum value, you could be eligible for this tax refund.

Most of us don’t have the budget to buy $300 gifts for all of our family members, but I still have great news for you. The minimum amount is for the value of the receipt not individual items. So if you bought two or three perfumes at Myers for your Mum and sisters, and the sum amount adds up to more than $300, you are still eligible to get a tax refund on your Christmas presents.

How to claim the tax refund

Make sure that you get to the airport early enough, because there is usually a long queue for the TRS desk. To get a tax refund on your Christmas presents you will need to go to the TRS desk at the airport. It isn’t hard to find, it’s right next to the shops. Just ask a shop assistant or an airport staff member. They will point you to the right direction. At the desk they will ask you to provide with the item with the packaging, the tax receipt, your boarding pass and your bank details for the refund. The packaging of your purchases doesn’t have to be unopened, but you will need to pack it in your hand luggage.

If your purchase is over the value of $1,000 the receipt has to show your address and the ABN (Australian Business Number) of the seller.

This is what you need to remember

There are only a few things you need to keep in mind to get the tax refund. Here is a recap;

  • Purchase needs to be over $300
  • The purchase must have been made within 60 days
  • The $300 minimum applies for the receipt amount, not per item
  • Only products that you are not bringing back to Australia are eligible
  • Make sure to keep the tax receipt
  • Make sure to keep the product packaging
  • If your purchase is more than $1,000 your address and the seller’s ABN needs to be on the receipt
  • Allow plenty of time at the airport for queueing to the TRS desk

You can read more detail about the Tax Refund Scheme on the ATO (Australian Tax Office’s), and the Sydney Airport’s websites.

So if you decided to break the bank for the holidays, make sure that you take advantage of this great opportunity. Go to the TRS desk after the customs and get a tax refund on your Christmas presents.

Read our blog for more useful articles about living in Sydney.

Orsi – moving countries 5 times Orsi is now an expert on how to settle into a new place. Now she is based in Sydney blogging about life down under.

LIVING GUIDE FOR SYDNEY |The e-book expats wish existed when they moved

  • How to get a visa to Australia?
  • Where to live in Sydney?
  • What documents do I need for renting?
  • How much tax do I pay in Australia?
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