Can I Claim the Tax-Free Threshold at Two Jobs?

Can I Claim the Tax-Free Threshold at Two Jobs?

Over the past decade or so, we’ve seen shifts in the workplace. One of these shifts is an increase in multiple-jobholders.  

It’s no longer odd to see a father at home with the kids on a Monday afternoon, a woman owning a billion-dollar company, or people (male or female) working for more than one employer at a time. No matter what the job situation may be, we all have one thing in common that we need to prepare for; taxes.

The ATO has created an income limit known as the tax-free threshold. This allows Australian workers to not be taxed on income earned up to a certain point. That limit is $18,200.

So, how do you claim this tax-free threshold at two jobs? Well, it depends.

How much of an income are you earning?

The ATO typically allows you to only claim the tax-free threshold from your primary source of income, or in other words, the job that earns you the higher salary.

If you have a secondary job that earns you a bit less income, that employer will withhold tax at the higher, ‘no tax-free threshold’ rate.

Is there an exception to the rule?

Isn’t there always? According to the ATO, if you are absolutely positive that your total income between both jobs will be less than the tax-free threshold of $18,200, then you can choose to claim the tax-free threshold at both jobs. Be extra careful when making this decision. If your second source of income causes you to exceed the threshold amount and wasn’t withheld at a higher rate of tax, then you could be faced with a tax debt at the end of the financial year to make up for the difference.

Let’s take a look at Brady’s tax situation:

Brady is employed as a nurse at his local hospital part-time. He also works the night shift as a doorman for a little extra income. As a nurse, he earns $12,000 per year, while the doorman gig earns him $6,000 per year. Together, this equals out to be less than the tax-free threshold. Therefore, he can claim the exemption from tax on both sources of income.


What if your primary source of income (alone) exceeds the tax-free threshold?

This is pretty common and nothing to worry about. Your employer should be familiar with this. Once the tax-free threshold is met for the year at your primary job, your employer will begin withholding at the tax rate associated with your specific tax bracket. This will be done automatically so that you do not need to keep track of each and every dollar earned.

Let’s take another look at Brady:

Starting this month, Brady was offered a full time nursing position with a raise and left his position as a doorman. He is now earning $30,000 per year. He can still claim the tax-free threshold at his nursing job, for his earnings up to $18,200. Once that threshold is met, his payer will begin taxing the remaining income at the ATO rate based on his total annual income.


So, how can you avoid overpaying or underpaying tax?

There are certain precautions that you can take so that you are paying just the right amount of tax:

  • Do not claim the tax-free threshold on the TFN declaration for both jobs. This is a standard form that you must complete when starting a new job. In Box 8, you are given the option of whether or not you will claim the tax-free threshold. Unless you earn under $18,200 at both jobs combined, you’ll only tick YES for your primary job (again, the one at which you earn more total in a year).
  • Know how much you earn in a year. This is important for more reasons than one. Whether you want to make sure you are being taxed correctly or think it’s time to negotiate a raise with your employer, this yearly figure, big or small, can mean a lot. It figures in all the calculations above – whether to claim the tax-free threshold at more than one job, as well as how much tax you expect to pay.


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68 Responses to “Can I Claim the Tax-Free Threshold at Two Jobs?”

  1. Nevaeh Hurae says:

    Hi, I just recently found out that I have not been claiming taxfree threshold for every job I have worked at for the past 5 years but then was told that, when you fill out your form for tax you are ment to claim if it is your only job you are working at and maybe I should see a tax agent to do my tax and look at my past years tax returns aswell I am confused I just never claimed it as I thought you could only claim it if you are not going to make over the threshold

  2. James says:

    Hey, I’ve just been offered another job as a casual employee, I’m currently working 6-10 hours a week and willl be offered around 10-20 hours a week at the new job. My old job has said they still want me to do two hours on Sunday once a fortnight and two hours on a Wednesday weekly. What should I do regarding tax and what’s the best option for my case.

  3. Tax Advisor says:

    If you have not claimed it in the previous years, within your return it should indicate that the tax free threshold was automatically taken into account to reduce your total taxable income. Rest assured if you have reported your income accurately there should be no need for concern with not claiming the tax-free threshold. It’s best that you claim this threshold from now on, so that as much of the threshold becomes available for you to use throughout the year. The threshold rates can be found on the ATO Website for the specific prior tax years.

  4. Tax Advisor says:

    Depending on the total salary you are earning, if your highest paying job has a salary of less than the tax-free threshold of $18,200 for the year, you should claim the tax-free threshold for that specific job transcript. If however both of your income earned at the two places of employment exceeds $18,200, it’s best not to claim the tax-free threshold for both jobs. Only if the combined income is less than $18,200 is it advised for you to claim the threshold for both jobs.

  5. Michelle says:

    If i am getting taxed on my second job at 45% (or whatever it it) will i get the difference back at the end of the tax year? So if my annual income doesn’t exceed the highest level, do i get my tax back on the extra tax i paid??

  6. Tax Advisor says:

    Depending on the overall income that you earn, after you have taken your deductions, you will have a total tax that is due. If you have overpaid, you will receive back a return. Generally, it is best not to claim the threshold on both jobs, as it may result in your owing the ATO because only the first $18,200 for the season 2015-2016 of your income is tax-free if you are a Australian Resident. You can view these the thresholds for all years through the ATO website.

  7. Two Jobs says:

    I work two jobs that both pay around double the tax-free threshold. Is it illegal to claim the tax-free threshold on both, accrue interest on the difference in a high-yield savings account, and then pay the tax man a lump sum as late as possible (lodging the return at the end of October, then paying the liability on its due date)?

    I’m capable of managing my finances such that there’s zero risk of me not having the money when it is time to pay, and to be honest, I’d rather the money be working for me, than overpaying the ATO and getting it back as a tax return.

  8. Tax Advisor says:

    I advise that you follow the instructions on the withholding declaration form, however, it is still up to your discretion.

  9. contractor and employee says:

    I have an ABN and I earn about $17000 doing contract work.
    i have just started another employed job worth $23000.
    what am I best to do with TF threshold? Dont claim it from my employer so I dont have to pay tax on my business earnings, or do I have to (or should) claim it from my employer and then pay tax on my business earnings?

  10. Tax Advisor says:

    If you claim the TFH for your business, as a sole trader, it will become your responsibility to pay the proper amount of taxes due when you lodge, as all of the income was not taxed and you received the full amount. If you, however, choose to claim the tax-free threshold for your ABN contract work and not claim on your employed work, you will have the proper amount of taxes withheld, which will end up resulting in a low tax due or a return when you lodge.

  11. Michael Smith says:

    I have worked now 3 jobs within this week and have always ended one before starting another, can i claim tax back from all 3 jobs, it would exceed the 18000 on one of the jobs but the others it wouldnt, really confusing for me. cheers

  12. Tax Advisor says:

    Hello Michael,

    You may claim the tax-free threshold only if all of your income is collectively less than $18,000 for the year. This would not be determined by each job separately. You would most likely not be able to claim the tax free threshhold since one of your jobs has already exceeded the $18,000 threshold. Whether or not you can get the taxes back is determined on your tax return.

  13. Joshin says:

    I am an international student and I am unware of all the tax rules in Australia. I have been working in two jobs and I have claimed tax free threshold on both. I have earned around 13k in my first job and 11k in second job so total income is 24k. Can I claim tax free threshold for 18k and pay tax for remaining 6k?? or Do I get a huge tax bill for 11k?. is the tax for second job is 45%?

  14. Tax Advisor says:

    In order to claim the tax-free threshold, you will need to first determine whether or not you are an Australian resident for tax purposes. If you are not an Australia resident for tax purposes, then all of your income is subjected to taxation. If you have determined you are a resident, then only your remaining income after the first $18,000 dollars that you have earned will be subjected to taxes.

  15. Joshin says:

    I am considered as Australian resident for tax purposes. Thanks for the advice, helps me a lot.

  16. sabend says:

    How can I do my tax returns when I have worked for 3 employers and I have 3 payment summaries? I do my tax return myself via Mygov and I still wish to use that. Please advise me as soon as you are able to.

  17. shridhar manjunath says:

    what is the tax on second job?

  18. Allan says:

    I have changed my job during the financial years while i earned around 3,000$ for the old job. I started my new one and ticked to claim my tax threshold for this job, which I earned 25,000$. Do i have to claim for tax of both or just the second one that gave me most income?

  19. NigR says:

    I worked 2 jobs this year – one that grossed $41542 and paid $9086 tax on, and the other that I grossed $33909 and paid $13000 tax. I also have a HELP debt. From different calculators I’ve used, it appears I only should’ve paid just over $15000 tax so I assume I’ve overpaid by around $7000 (I did ask my second employer to take out extra tax) but my return estimate so far is only at $700! Can this be right. I was counting on getting back a far bit more.
    Many thanks!

  20. Tax Advisor says:

    Hello Nigel,

    Tax calculators should be accurate but if you would like to get more information regarding your refund you may get started with your return and contact our customer service to better assist you.

  21. Tax Advisor says:

    Hello Sabend,

    You can lodge your tax return using our website or another website of your choice. Be sure to report all PayGs.

  22. Tax Advisor says:

    Hello Shridhar,

    Tax withheld from your job is found on your PayG.

  23. Tax Advisor says:

    Hello Allan,

    The ATO typically allows you to only claim the tax-free threshold from your primary source of income, or in other words, the job that earns you the higher salary, for example, $25,000. Your secondary job that earns $3000, will withhold tax at the higher rate.

  24. Lisa says:

    Please help!
    I went to a tax account last year with help in regards to having 2 jobs (first time I’ve had two jobs). Unfortunately I had a tax debt last year due to not taking enough tax out. I’m claiming the tax free threshold on my primary job and no tax free threshold on my 2nd. I was told by my account last year that if I asked to take an extra $15 off my wage at my 2nd job/pay check I would receive a better tax return this year if around $400-$500. So far no looking promising with only a return of maybe $150. My primary job I earned $39094 with $5226 of tax and my 2nd job I earned $10,289 with $2835 of tax

  25. Marnie says:

    I currently am doing relief work at two different places, as it’s relief I do not know how much I will earn in the financial year. Also not knowing which will pay higher by end of financial year.
    Do I tick yes or no on second job tax form

  26. donna holmes says:

    I work for several nursing agencies but never at the same time. I may work half the year with one agency and the rest of the year with another one or two. I am only ever working for one employer at a time so does that mean I can only claim the tax free threshold with one employer? Sometimes I work six months but am paying a lot of tax because they are not considered my “primary employer”. thanks

  27. jade says:

    I was working full time for 3 years i claimed the tax free threshold. I quit that job December 2017 and started a new full-time job January 2017. I claimed the tax free threshold for my new job. I got my tax return done and got told i should of ticked NO for the tax free threshold, because i ticked yes on my last job. Now i have a tax bill. This did not make sense to me

  28. sonu says:

    hi. my income from primary job was $74000 and i also worked as a casual and had earned another $14000. i ahve family my she is looking after our baby and currently stays at home. but i didnt declared it as asecondary income. i am also getting frindge benifits. i am just worried how much tax i have pay this time because last time i end up paying $2600 back to ATO.

  29. Helen says:

    My daughter had one job she earned under 18k so no tax paid, she then left that for her full time job where she’s earned over 18k . She’s filled in her tax return with both group certificates and her tax she gets back reduces when she puts in her under 18k return. Does she need to include her under 18k group ceritifcate if she’s paid no tax on that job?

  30. Renee says:

    I worked in one job earning 20000 for this tax year then left that job and started a new one in april that has so far paid me 8000. Do i put bprg jobs on my return? Thanks

  31. James says:

    Is it illegal to not claim tax back on my second job. i earned a total of 30,000, 20 at one job and 10 at another. Is it possible to only claim money on the higher earning job which returns me 2,000 opposed to claiming both and only getting a total of 900 back

  32. Tax Advisor says:

    Hello James,

    The ATO typically allows you to only claim the tax-free threshold from the job that earns you the higher salary. Since your second job earns you a bit less income, that employer will withhold tax at the higher, ‘no tax-free threshold’ rate.

  33. Tax Advisor says:

    Hello Renee,

    Report jobs that you received a Payment Summary from. Since you recently started a new job, it is likely you did not receive a Payment Summary so soon in the year. Contact your employer and the ATO for more details.

  34. Tax Advisor says:

    Hello Sonu,

    Feel free to use Elodge’s 2016-2017 Tax Calculator found on our website to determine your tax liability or tax refund.

  35. Tax Advisor says:

    Hello Marnie,

    This is entirely up to you. The ATO typically allows you to only claim the tax-free threshold from your primary source of income, or in other words, the job that earns you the higher salary. If you have a secondary job that earns you a bit less income, that employer will withhold tax at the higher, ‘no tax-free threshold’ rate.

  36. Tax Advisor says:

    Your daughter must file her return with all of the tax income statement information that she received for the tax season. Do not be concerned with having to report your entire income that you earned for the year, as the system will take into account your Tax-Free threshold as well as inquire about whether or not you chose this option. Your return will be processed accordingly in the manner that you file it.

  37. Tax Advisor says:

    Typically when claiming the tax-free threshold you want to ensure that you are making under the threshold. So if you had two different jobs for the year and made under the threshold, it would be fine for you to claim this option for both jobs. However, if the combined income that you earn exceeded this threshold, then you should not have claimed this option for both. You will need to indicate what you claimed within your return, and you may end up having a bill higher than usual because not enough taxes were withheld.

  38. Tax Advisor says:

    If you can determine the income that you are earning from each employer separately, you can claim the threshold for all the employers that have the income sum of $18,200 or lower for that specific year. However, if you cannot determine your income separately, it may be best for you to claim your threshold from your higher earning income job instead.

  39. Tax Advisor says:

    The return that you are receiving is your money that is withheld throughout the year. Your taxes are not subjected to any changes as long as the income that you are earning remains the same for each financial year and the tax-free threshold does not change. It is in your best interest to have a return as close to $0, as this means that you are able to use the most of the income that you earn throughout the year without having to wait for it to be available for you as a return in the following Financial year filing.

  40. Chris says:

    I’ve just started a second job that will likely only be busy for maximum 6 months of the year on a casual basis, and my first job will likely exceed the 18,200 threshold. Would i be taxed the same amount in total at the end regardless of whether I claim the tax-free threshold on both or whether i only claim it for one?

  41. Debi says:

    I have just started a second job which will earn more than my primary job, and possibly take me over the tax free threshold. Am I able to change which employer I earn the tax free threshold from? If so, how?

  42. Tax Advisor says:

    If the first job that you are earning income from is lower than the tax-free threshold, you do not need to be concerned with changing your information with that specific employer. You will only need to be concerned with how and what you are claiming for your second job, as claiming the threshold for your new job may result in owing taxes to the ATO.

  43. Tax Advisor says:

    If you have already claimed the threshold for one of your jobs and the income that you earn from that employer already exceeds the threshold amount, claiming the tax-free threshold on your second job will result in higher taxes. It would be best for you not to claim tax-free threshold twice.

  44. Anna says:

    I’ve claimed the threshold at a job that I first got. And then now I’m working at another workplace and didn’t claim the threshold because I was aware that I can only claim from one employer (but I didn’t know the reason why). From reading your article now I understand that I should claim from the higher paying job. The problem is my second job pays me higher than my first job – so in summary I’ve claimed the threshold from a job that pays me less. How should I go about this? Can I “swap” where I claim the threshold from? Thanks.

  45. Dee says:

    Hi, I am an international student and I am offered two jobs. I have been advised by someone if i declare tax-free threshold in one job it is legal for me two work two jobs. But I am concerned if i am allowed to work two jobs under a student visa.

  46. new job says:


    I started job part time and claiming
    tax free threshold. I’m soon start new job soon which have higher income while my current job will now be on casual basis.

    They say should claim for your primary source of income (which will soon be my new job)so how should go about claiming tax – free threahold for this new job, noting my current job(which cliamed for)will soon only be causal(so wont be my primary source income anymore

  47. Amanda says:

    I have 2 jobs. One is permanent part-time, but pays quite low. The second is a higher paying casual job (I earn more at this job, even though I work less hours doing it). I currently don’t claim the tax free threshold for the casual job, as I’ve been able to salary package this job, and therefore resuce my taxable income. Howvwe9, I’ve reaches my FTB limit now until 1 April 2018, meaning I’m back to paying a high rate of tax at my casual job.

    Am I better off switching and claiming the tax free threshold from my casual job? I wouldn’t earn over $18,000 in my permanent part-time job.


  48. Jy Jenkins says:

    I have a job that is currently giving me 20 hrs a week and have just started a second job that will give me 10 hrs a week. However, in the next few months these hours will switch around and the second job will give me 20 hrs and the first will give me 10. So you see if i dont claim the tax free threshold for that second job aswell, i will be extremely out of pocket during the time im working predominantly at my second job due to getting taxed heavily.
    How to i best avoid this? Claim the tax free threshold on both jobs? Or switch the rates of tax around when my hours change? Help please!

  49. Diney says:

    I worked for a company as casual and earned $43000 from July’17 to October’17. I ticked as claiming tax free threshold for this job.

    I have started as casual with 2 companies at the same time in November’17. I selected as not claiming tax free threshold for both of them.
    Individually I will earn more that $40K with one employer.
    Is my option not claiming tax with both employers is correct or right now I have only two employer, so should I claim tax with one of the higher paying employer?
    Also at this stage I dont know which employer will be paying more till end of the financial year.

    Please explain. Thank you

  50. Tax Advisor says:

    If your job hours are switched, swapping the tax-free threshold to the other job would be for the best, only if you will be earning the most income from that job for the year.

  51. Geneyne Feldman says:

    How much tax would i be paying out of $30.46 per hour (teacher aide)as a 2nd job .my 1st job pays less but i will be getting more hours.

  52. A.Knight says:

    Hi! Need help. Recently I lodge October 2017 to change my claim free tax threshold to No- tax free threshold, On my primary job. Due I have a second job started last july 2017 but my second has less work and income. And my pay goes down due to I changed to no tax free threshold. Can I still changed it back on my primary job – claim tax free threhold? Is there a limit in charming it?

  53. Tracey says:

    I am currently working as a nurse earning $65000 part time, I was wanting to start my own pet grooming business as well just1-2 days a wk,what would I need to do about tax for the dog grooming business as it will obviously cost me $20000 approx to buy everything etc…can I put everything I buy against my tax? Also the course for dog grooming is $5000 can I put that in my tax claim too? Thanks

  54. Tax Advisor says:

    As an Australia resident for tax purposes, you have the option to claim your tax-free threshold. This should be claimed on the job that will be paying you the most amount of income, and at most only once. You may want to update your forms to indicate that you would like to claim this for your highest income job, however, if you choose to not claim this threshold, you will receive a large return when it comes time to lodge.

    If you are unsure of which of the two will be paying more, place a claim for either one, as long as you are making over the threshold amount for both.

  55. Tax Advisor says:

    You can speak to your payer for more details. If your total income increases above $18,200, ask the payer for a new “Withholding Declaration” in order to stop claiming the tax-free threshold. Only claim the tax-free threshold from both payers if your income is below $18,200. Otherwise, only claim the tax-free threshold from the payer who usually pays the highest salary.

  56. Tax Advisor says:

    Hello Geneyne,

    We would need more information in order to calculate your tax. For an accurate number, take advantage of our Pay Calculator on our website.

  57. Tax Advisor says:

    The ATO typically allows you to only claim the tax-free threshold from your primary source of income, or in other words, the job that earns you the higher salary. If you have a secondary job that earns you a bit less income, that employer will withhold tax at the higher, ‘no tax-free threshold’ rate. Please refer to the ATO website for more information about claiming the Tax-Free Threshold.

  58. Tax Advisor says:

    Please refer to the following article provided by the ATO regarding claiming the tax-free threshold.

  59. Tax Advisor says:

    Hello Tracey,

    There are limitations as to what you are allowed to claim based on specific industries and occupations. Please visit the ATO website for more details:

  60. Tax Advisor says:

    Please reference the following ATO’s “Claiming the tax-free threshold” article for more information.

  61. Tax Advisor says:

    A change might not be necessary if your lower paying job will earn you up and over the tax-free threshold. If you choose to swap, you may have to pay taxes at the end of the financial year instead of a return. However, please feel free to contact us for further assistance at P 1300 ELODGE (356 343).

  62. Tax Advisor says:

    The ATO typically allows you to only claim the tax-free threshold from the job that earns you the higher salary. If you have a second job that earns you a bit less income, that employer will withhold tax at the higher, ‘no tax-free threshold’ rate. You may refer to the ATO website for more details about working two jobs.

  63. Jay says:

    I’m using my personal TFN for the salary I receive from my current employer and I’ve also been offered a contract position with another company, which I would carry out at the same time. Is it OK to use my pty ltd business TFN for this contract role, even though they’re employing me and not my business? The 2 combined incomes would put my in the higher tax bracket, but the 2 separate would be mid-range, the two TFNs would purely be used for lowering tax. Thanks

  64. Tax Advisor says:

    You may want to contact one of our tax experts to address your concerns about filing your tax return. You can reach us during our hours of business
    Monday – Friday between 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM AEST on 1300 ELODGE (356 343)

  65. Rachel says:

    Hi I was recently working at a boarding school kitchen as a casual started may 2017.We do not work school holidays so employees only work 38wks a yr (roughly) due to no contract renewal i looked for work and i am now employed as a casual cleaner at a school 20hrs a week and do not work school holidays. I am now off for 6wks and i am going to he helping out at my husbands work as a casual 32 hrs a week until i return to work in January 2018. Can i claim tax free threshold for both jobs as ill ear under $18,200 this financial year? Hope to hear back soon. Thankyou rachel

  66. Tax Advisor says:

    If you are certain that you will be earning under the tax-free threshold, you are allowed to claim this on your various jobs. However, if you do make above this threshold, you may be subjected to a liability when it comes time to lodge your return in the coming season.

  67. Holly says:

    Hi, so I’ve read over the various questions and answers.

    Just some clarification please, I’ve had a full time job from the start of the FY, until about a week ago. I would’ve claimed the tax-free threshold at that place of employment.

    Now I am now unemployed and looking for full time employment again halfway through the financial year am I not to claim the tax-free threshold when i am re-employed?

  68. Tax Advisor says:

    The tax-free threshold applies to the first $18,200 dollars that you earn. It may be best not to claim another tax-free threshold after the transition to your new job, to avoid having a tax due when it comes time to lodge for the coming financial tax year.

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