Australian Taxation Office Online Tax Return Creates Problems for Student Visa Taxpayers

ATO FAIL. The online form does not properly address the requirements for students from overseas. All is fine until you get to the Medicare Levy Exemption page. 

Answer the questions thus:

Were you in one of the following exemption categories? Yes

Full 2% exemption - 365 days

Were you a temporary resident for Medicare purposes and have Medicare Entitlement Statement from the Department of Human Services?

- No

Were you and all of your dependants covered by an appropriate level of private patient hospital cover from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015?

- Yes

Then it will want your insurer name and membership number. No problem. It is the last section of this page that is not composed with the overseas student in mind. This section can only be completed if your medical insurance provider has issued you with an annual tax statement - and if you are on a student visa, they haven't, and they can't. But when you try clicking 'Save and Continue' without adding anything to this section, it won't allow you to continue and demands that it be completed.

I have just spent hours on the phone to both BUPA and the ATO trying to fix this problem. The ATO transferred me to different people who were supposed to be experts on temporary residents with working visas. They had no idea what to do. 

There was just no way to lodge the return without writing something in the box at the bottom (pictured).

I tried adding all kinds of nonsense and it worked - it allowed you to continue to the next page. Eventually I settled on A (J), $0 (K) $0 (L) and Benefit Code 30. None of this is true but it will permit you to lodge the return. 

After you have lodged the return, it will state 'Refund $0.00'. Ignore this; the return will have to be looked at by a human due to the random answers above. You will receive your tax refund but it will probably be delayed due to the ATO's oversight and maladministration in setting up this online form. 

Don't bother ringing the ATO and questioning this absurdity. Take my word for it, no-one there has a clue.