Australian government takes steps to engage controversy among taxpayers.
When preparing your tax return, you’re more or less relaying the facts of your tax situation for that financial year. However, what happens when some of those facts end up in a grey area?
In recent years, there has been controversy among Australians about gender. Beginning with the hefty pay gaps between men and women in the workplace, a majority of taxpayers already aren’t thrilled with the government.
Well, this takes a step beyond gender equality and hits home with gender identifiers; specifically on birth certificates, toilet stalls, passports, and…you guessed it…tax returns.
What’s the real issue here?
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, “Individuals should be handed the power to decide their gender identity for themselves, without prior approval from doctors and psychologists…”.
This statement hit the nail on the head for those who are going through this thought process themselves or happen to know someone who is. On the flip side, for others, this belief has been chewed up and spit back out. The issue, in general, remains controversial among Australians. However, the ATO (not to mention some other government agencies) has done what they can do to make both parties happy.
If you can prove it, you can change it.
When it comes to your tax return, whether you’re a male or female really makes no difference to the ATO. You’re asked for your personal details in order to match what is currently on file, and has been since birth.
The ATO has more recently allowed the option to update your gender. All you need to do is provide a certified copy of one of the following documents:
- Statement from a registered medical practitioner or a registered psychologist which specifies your preferred gender/sex
- Valid Australian Government travel document (eg: passport) which specifies your preferred gender/sex
- State or territory birth certificate which specifies your preferred gender/sex
- Document from a state or territory Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages recognising a change of gender/sex
If you do choose to provide a registered medical practitioner or registered psychologist statement, it needs to include all of the following:
- Medical practitioner/psychologist letterhead, including their full name and contact details
- A declaration from the medical practitioner/psychologist that they have treated you or evaluated your history
- Your full name and the gender/sex you choose to identify with
- Signature of medical practitioner/psychologist
- Medical practitioner/psychologist registration number from the Medical Board of Australia or Psychology Board of Australia (or the equivalent).
If you can’t prove it, you can’t change it, BUT…
As we spoke about before, when it comes to your tax return, your gender is only a means of identity listed on file. That being said, if you don’t have any of the documentation listed above, the ATO still has your best interests at heart (believe it or not). Beginning July 2016, you will have the option to record your gender as ‘indeterminate’ on your tax return, which will then be reflected in your tax record with the ATO. With this, they will also remove the courtesy title from your record. What do I mean by courtesy title? When lodging your tax return or addressing you in any form, they will exclude the Mr, Mrs, Sir, Ms, or Miss.
What’s the easiest way to update your gender information with the ATO?
Your records will be updated within 28 days of notifying the ATO. You can update your gender information one of two ways:
- By phone. This is recommended if you only want to change or remove your title. Without documentation, the ATO cannot change your recorded gender/sex. You can ring 13 28 61 Monday-Friday between 8AM-6PM AEST if you live within Australia. You can phone +61 2 6216 1111 Monday-Friday between 8AM-5PM AEST if you live outside of Australia.
- By post. This is the recommended way to go about it if you have the documentation available. Mail to:
Australian Taxation Office
PO Box 9942
Moonee Ponds VIC 3039 Australia
You’ll need to include the following information within your letter:
- Name and address on record
- New name and title (if being updated)
- A statement clearly requesting the ATO to update your gender/sex information
- Your signature
- Your documentation supporting the change (as stated above). This should be a certified copy; not the original as you may not receive it back.
Tags: gender identifiers