A question about income tax (not GST).
The short answers are yes and no, but there is a lot of detail.
Do You Live In Australia?
If you live in Australia, then you are taxed on income you earn, no matter where it is earned. This is a somewhat simplified statement, but it will apply to the majority of readers.
So, if you go overseas for a week to do a shoot, you will be taxable in Australia on the net income you earn. Doing a job in a low-tax country like, say, Hong Kong, doesn’t mean you don’t declare that income on your Australian tax return. Sorry!
Do You Pay Tax Twice?
Depending on the nature of the job and how often you are working overseas, you may be subject to income tax in both countries!
As a matter of practice, Australian photographers don’t tend to pay income tax when they are working overseas, and probably few foreign photographers pay tax in Australia when working here.
However, the Australian Tax Office does tax international tennis players on their Australian earnings (because it is earned in Australia), so the matter of practice and the strict interpretation of the law can be different.
Australia has double tax agreements with a lot of countries and these agreements can mean that any income tax you pay in a foreign country may provide you with a tax credit when lodging your Australian income tax return. This means you’re not taxed twice.
However, it is unlikely you will be lodging an income tax return in an overseas country, unless you set up residence there.
If you are thinking of leaving Australia and working overseas for a few years, your overseas income (after expenses) could still be subject to Australian tax. However, in most of the common countries Australians work in, double tax treaties may mean you will get a credit for the tax paid in the overseas country.
If you leave Australia permanently, then you no longer have to pay tax in Australia on income earned overseas. However, income earned in Australia may still be subject to Australian tax.
This is a very complicated area and the main point of the article is to confirm that, generally, Australian photographers are taxed on income, no matter which country they are working in.
This is general information only. We do not know your specific financial or legal situation and we are not providing you with advice. As such, this article should not be relied upon as legal, financial or accounting advice. Please use this article as a conversation starter with your own adviser.