On this page:
- How much do I owe?
- When do I have to repay my HELP debt?
- How much will my repayments be?
- Will I be charged interest?
- Can I pay off my debt sooner?
- How do I make a voluntary repayment?
- What happens if I can’t afford the repayments?
- What happens if I go bankrupt?
- Can I get my HELP debt remitted?
- What happens to my HELP debt if I die?
- Need more information?
How much do I owe?
HELP debts are managed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Therefore, for specific information on your HELP debt you will need to contact the ATO on 13 28 61. You can phone the ATO at any time during the year to request a HELP account information statement to get the balance of your account. Be sure to have your tax file number (TFN) handy when you call. The ATO will ask you for it for security purposes before they disclose any personal information to you.Return to top
When do I have to repay my HELP debt?
You have to start repaying your HELP debt through the taxation system once your repayment income is above the compulsory repayment threshold, even if you are still studying. The compulsory repayment threshold is adjusted each year. For the 2012-13 income year, the compulsory repayment threshold is $49,095.
Repayment income is calculated from the amounts given on your income tax return for:
- your taxable income;
- reportable fringe benefits (reported on your payment summary);
- total net investment loss (which includes net rental loss);
- reportable super contributions; and
- exempt foreign employment income amounts.
How much will my repayments be?
The amount you repay each year is a percentage of your repayment income. The percentage increases as your income increases, so the more you earn, the higher your repayment will be. The ATO will calculate your compulsory repayment for the year and include it on your income tax notice of assessment.
|2013-2014 Repayment income||Repayment % rate|
|$51,309 - $57,153||4.0%|
|$57,154 - $62,997||4.5%|
|$62,998 - $66,308||5.0%|
|$66,309 - $71,277||5.5%|
|$71,278 - $77,194||6.0%|
|$77,195 - $81,256||6.5%|
|$81,257 - $89,421||7.0%|
|$89,422 - $95,287||7.5%|
|$95,288 and above||8.0%|
|2012-2013 Repayment income||Repayment % rate|
|$49,096 - $54,688||4.0%|
|$54,689 - $60,279||4.5%|
|$60,280 - $63,448||5.0%|
|$63,449 - $68,202||5.5%|
|$68,203 - $73,864||6.0%|
|$73,865 - $77,751||6.5%|
|$77,752 - $85,564||7.0%|
|$85,565 - $91,177||7.5%|
|$91,178 and above||8.0%|
Can I pay off my debt sooner?
Yes. You can make a voluntary repayment to the ATO at any time and for any amount. Voluntary repayments are in addition to the compulsory repayments made through your tax return. If you make a voluntary repayment of $500 or more, you will receive a bonus of 5%*.This means your account will be credited with an additional 5% of the value of your payment. The bonus is 5% of the payment amount, not 5% of the total debt.
To work out how much you need to repay to clear your entire debt, divide your total debt by 1.05. Round the amount of your payment down to the nearest dollar.
From 1 January 2014, subject to the passage of legislation, the voluntary repayment bonus of 5% will be removed.Return to top
How do I make a voluntary repayment?
You can make a voluntary repayment by BPAY or direct credit, Credit card or by posting a cheque to the ATO. To make a voluntary repayment you will need your Payment Reference Number (PRN) which is printed on your Account Information Statement issued by the ATO.
Contact the ATO on 13 28 61 for further information on how to make your voluntary payment or visit ATO voluntary repayments (opens in a new window).Return to top
What happens if I can’t afford the repayments?
If you believe that making your compulsory repayment would cause you serious financial hardship or there are other reasons why you should not have to make a compulsory repayment, you can apply to the ATO to defer your repayment. You will need to complete the Deferring your compulsory HELP, HECS or Financial Supplement repayment form, which is available on the ATO website (opens in a new window). The form asks for a detailed statement of your household income and expenditure to justify your claim of serious hardship.
The ATO will write to say whether your application is successful. If you are unhappy with the decision, you may apply to have it reviewed within 28 days of receiving the notice. If, after the review, you still believe the ATO has made the wrong decision, you may then apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a review. You need to lodge your application with the AAT within 28 days of the day you receive the outcome of the ATO’s review.
For more information on applying to defer a compulsory repayment, contact the ATO.Return to top
What happens if I go bankrupt?
Accumulated HELP debts are not provable under the Bankruptcy Act 1966. This means you will have to pay it as if you had not been declared bankrupt.Return to top
Can I get my HELP debt remitted?
Please see Re-crediting a HELP debt for information about having your HELP debt remitted (cancelled).Return to top
What happens to my HELP debt if I die?
A trustee or executor needs to lodge all outstanding tax returns on behalf of a deceased person, up to the date of the person’s death. Any compulsory repayment included on a notice of assessment that relates to the period before the person’s death must be paid from the estate, but the remainder of the accumulated debt is cancelled.
Neither the deceased person’s family nor the trustee is required to pay the rest of the accumulated HELP debt.Return to top
Need more information?
Contact the ATO on 13 28 61 or visit the ATO website (opens in a new window). The ATO will ask you for your tax file number before they disclose any personal information to you. International callers should phone +61 2 6216 1111 and ask for the HELA Unit or fax +61 2 6216 7771.Return to top