<p>‘Backpacker tax’ was introduced in 2017</p>

‘Backpacker tax’ was introduced in 2017

British woman wins ‘backpacker tax’ legal battle

Working holidaymaker found to have been discriminated against based on her nationality

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 03 November 2021 09:20

A British woman has won a legal battle against Australia’s “backpacker tax” in a ruling that could have far-reaching implications for other working holidaymakers.

Catherine Addy worked as a waitress in Sydney in 2017 using a working holiday visa, known as a 417.

The visa is offered to foreign nationals aged between 18 and 31 who want to work during their stay in Australia.

Visa holders with a 417 are taxed 15 per cent on all income up to A$37,000 (£20,200) – a higher rate than Australians, who aren’t taxed on income up to A$18,200 (£9,956).

Ms Addy argued that the tax, introduced the same year she was working in Sydney, discriminated against her due to her nationality.

She earned A$26,576 (£14,538) that year working at two different pubs, and was taxed A$3,986 (£2,180) - an Australian would have been taxed less than half that amount (A$1,591/£870).

The tax was unfair due to an existing international “double tax” agreement Australia has with the UK, Germany, Israel, Japan, Norway, Finland, Turkey and Chile, her lawyers claimed, arguing that citizens of these nations should be taxed at the same rate as Australians.

“The question is whether that more burdensome taxation was imposed on Ms Addy owing to her nationality. The short answer is yes,” read the ruling from the High Court of Australia.

“Most working holidaymakers will be non-residents as they are in Australia to have a holiday and working to support that holiday,” said a spokesperson for The Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

They said the judgement only applied to travellers from the eight countries with the “double tax” agreement who had been in Australia on the working holiday visa since 2017.

The tax had been a “disincentive to working holidaymakers to take up much-needed seasonal picking work while visiting Australia“, argued Taxback.com, which supported Ms Addy in bringing the case to court.

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