If you earn money from your work or from investments, you will usually pay tax on that money. Understanding how your tax is calculated will help you work out how much tax you should pay.
1. How much tax will you pay?
2. What income is taxable?
3. Medicare levy and the surcharge
4. Reducing your tax bill
5. Where to go for help on your tax
How much tax will you pay?
Income tax is money paid to the government from the money you earn. It is usually paid throughout the year as you earn the income. For example, if you work for an employer, your employer will deduct tax from each pay and send it to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) on your behalf.
Your marginal tax rate
The amount of tax you pay will depend on how much you earn. Australia uses a sliding scale of tax. The highest rate of tax you will pay is known as your marginal tax rate.
Marginal tax rates for 2014-15
Taxable income Tax on this income
$0 - $18,200 Nil
$18,201 - $37,000 19c for every dollar over $18,200
$37,001 - $80,000 $3,572 + 32.5c for every dollar over $37,000
$80,001 - $180,000 $17,547 + 37c for every dollar over $80,000
$180,001 and over $54,547 + 47c for every dollar over $180,000
The tables above only apply to Australian residents who are 18 and over and does not include the Medicare levy. The top marginal tax rate does include the budget repair levy. Foreign residents and the investment income of children are taxed at different rates. See the ATO's web pages on income of minors and foreign resident tax rates.
In addition to income tax, most people will also have to pay a Medicare levy. The Medicare levy is calculated as 2% of your taxable income. It is used to help fund our public health system. Generally, it allows you to visit a doctor or receive treatment at a public hospital free of charge.
Low income earners may have their Medicare levy reduced or may not have to pay it at all. People not entitled to use our Medicare system, such as foreign residents, will not have to pay the Medicare levy either.
High income earning individuals or families who do not have an appropriate level of private patient hospital cover may have to pay a Medicare levy surcharge. This is an extra 1%, 1.25% or 1.5% of their taxable income depending on their income level.
The Medicare levy is deducted as part of your income tax and forwarded to the tax office on your behalf.
Tax offsets directly reduce the amount of tax paid, and are applied after the tax has been calculated. Common tax offsets include offsets for:
1. Low income earners
2. Taxpayers with a dependent relative
3. Pensioners and senior Australians
4. The taxable portion of a superannuation income stream
5. Net medical expenses over certain amounts
You can find out more about tax offsets on the ATO's offsets you can claim webpage.
Salary sacrificing is another way you can reduce your tax bill. Salary sacrificing is when you put some of your pre-tax income towards a particular benefit before you are taxed. This is usually only tax-effective for medium and high income earners.