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I'm an Australian citizen and live in Europe. I departed Australia a decade ago and lodged my final tax return with the Australian Taxation Office at that time. The outcome was a notice of assessment saying I had to pay about 15$, and I think I didn't pay it. Now I have to renew my Australian passport at the nearest Australian embassy and am afraid that my application may be denied over that tax issue. I haven't yet made my passport renewal application.

When I log on to my account at the Australian Taxation Office via my.gov.au, I see the following messages:

Lodgments are up to date.

Payments are up to date.

So it looks like the Australian Taxation Office has no issues with me, although the online portal might be unable to show such old debts. Maybe I actually paid the tax balance, but I think I didn't do it. I remember trying to find the notice of assessment in order to make the payment. If my memory serves me well, I wasn't able to find it and decided to get back to that later - which I still haven't done. And I have never received any reminder from the Australian Taxation Office. They have always had my email address and postal address. Maybe the Australian Taxation Office wrote off the debt because it was too small to bother about, but I am not sure. Or maybe the Australian Taxation Office sold the debt to a debt collecting agency.

Can an Australian passport renewal application be denied over such a tax issue? Or is it safe to assume that this tax issue won't be a problem in my case, given that my online account at the Australian Taxation Office shows no issues? Or should contact the Australian Taxation Office before renewing my passport? What's my best course of action?

I really don't want my passport renewal application to be denied, because it will mean a loss of time and a few hundred dollars.

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You don't have a problem.

  1. The ATO is telling you that both your lodgments and your payments are up to date. Good.
  2. Even if your payments are not up to date, it's quite unlikely that the ATO would try to block your right to renew your passport over a trivial amount of $15.

So it appears very unlikely that the ATO will have any influence whatsoever in your passport application process. There are significant delays currently in processing passport applications (due to staffing issues in DFAT (COVID, etc)) so get your application underway early rather than late.

If you are still concerned that the ATO may try to stuff you around over a $15 debt for which there is no apparent evidence, then pay $15 to the ATO! It would be cheap insurance, because it either acquits your existing debt, or it results in the ATO having a small debt to you.

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