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Court rules Australia's 'backpacker tax' illegally targets foreigners but Irish emigrants might be out of luck

“It is a disguised form of discrimination based on nationality,” judge John Logan said.

Image: Shutterstock/Freebird7977

AUSTRALIA’S BACKPACKER TAX illegally targeted some foreign workers, a court ruled today, leaving people who spent time in the country on holiday working visas in line for tax rebates.

From 2017, Canberra applied a 15% levy for every dollar earned for two categories of working holiday visas linked to seasonal labour.

In a landmark decision, a Brisbane court ruled the levy — dubbed the “backpacker tax” — cannot be applied to a British woman due to a double taxation treaty between Australia and the UK.

Similar agreements are also in place with the United States, Germany, Finland, Chile, Japan, Norway and Turkey according to international accounting firm Taxback.com.

At this moment in time, it does not look like any Irish emigrants will be due money back.

“That is a disguised form of discrimination based on nationality,” judge John Logan said. 

Australians begin paying tax once their annual income exceeds Aus$18,200. That was also the previous threshold for the working holiday visas.

The Australian Tax Office said it was considering whether to appeal the decision.

It added the ruling only affects a minority of working holiday makers “who are also residents, and only those from countries affected by a similar clause in the double tax agreement with their home country”.

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