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€70m Oz tax windfall for Irish backpackers

IRISH backpackers who worked in Australia could be due a windfall worth €600 each.

With more than 100,000 Irish people having worked in Australia since 2005, there is a potential €70m lying dormant with the Australian revenue which could be claimed by Irish people, according to tax experts.

A tax specialist contends that 75pc of people who return to Ireland having worked in Australia do not claim a superannuation refund, which is different to the regular income tax refund claimed by thousands every year.

Superannuation, known as "supers" in Australia, were introduced by the Australian government as a way of saving for retirement. The average superannuation refund is worth $900 (€666).

Grainne Clancy, operations manager of www.taxback.com said: "Superannuation is a lesser known rebate entitlement which thousands of Irish people can claim for but do not due to lack of awareness, or possibly because in the past the process could be a bit laborious and complex.

"However, it can now be done with the utmost ease. Anyone who earned over $450 a month when they were working in Oz would've paid up to 9pc of their wages into a superannuation fund.

"What's more, even if people travelled to Australia some time ago, they may still be entitled to a cash refund as claims can go back as far as 2001.

Claimed

"Typical refunds can amount to anything from $600 up to $5,000 and in our experience, the average super claim is worth approximately $900."

Taxback.com said that evidence of the lack of awareness has prompted them to offer a quick and easy service to people who have worked in Australia in the past.

Ms Clancy said: "In 2008, just 30,000 temporary residents claimed their super after leaving Australia. This is a relatively small number considering 132,786 temporary visas were issued in the same year. We would estimate that the percentage would be even smaller the further you go back.

"A lot of the customers we speak to about normal Australian income tax refunds have had no idea about the superannuation money they're also due back."

Although people may be eligible to claim back as far as 2001, people should apply sooner rather than later.

mlavery@herald.ie