Significant changes come into effect in 2016 with respect to the liability of Australian expatriates to continue the repayment of any HELP debts, on much the same basis as is they had remained resident in Australia. Previously, debts would have remained outstanding and not liable for payment until an expat became resident again in Australia. These changes apply to both individuals heading overseas, and those already resident outside of Australia. We have summarised the main requirements below, and provided a link to the ATO website for more details:
1. If you live outside Australia, and have either have a Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) or Trade Support Loan (TSL) debt, you now have the same repayment obligations as those who live in Australia. This applies if you already live or intend to move overseas for a total of more than six months in any 12-month period.
2. From 1 January 2016, you will need to update your contact details through MyGov within seven days of leaving Australia. If you already reside overseas, you will need to update your details no later than 1 July 2017.
3. From 1 July 2017, if you are living overseas and earning an income that exceeds the minimum repayment threshold, you will be required to make compulsory repayments towards your debt.
More information about overseas repayments can be found on the ATO website. Note that there were proposals within the 2017 Federal Budget to change the repayment arangements applicable to student lonas, including the introduction of the lower repayment threshold. We will provide further details when legislation is available.