Your Tax File Number (TFN) is a crucial piece of information required for many different reasons. It’s much more than a simple reference number you need to use at tax time. Applying for government benefits, opening a new bank account and keeping track of your super savings will all require you to have access to your TFN.

The Child Support Agency and Centrelink can also require Australian’s to provide their TFN, so do universities and higher education providers, banks, solicitors and your tax agent or accountant.

You will also need to use your TFN if upon commencing a new job. When a recently hired employee starts at a new workplace they have 28 days to provide their new employer with their TFN before they start withholding tax from your pay at the maximum rate.

How to get your tax file number back when you’ve lost it

When trying to get back your Tax File Number the first avenue to go down would be to utilise the services of an accountant or tax agent. It would be best to ask them for your TFN number as you may have previously provided to them during a prior interaction with them.

If this is unsuccessful and doesn’t result in your obtaining your TFN the next best option would be to contact the Australian Tax Office (ATO). You can contact them anytime between 8am to 8pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time) between Monday and Friday on 13 28 61. You can also contact the ATO on Saturday between 10am and 4pm.

If you want to get back your TFN, The Australian Tax Office will need to be 100% certain that you are the person you claim to be. Identity theft is not an uncommon occurrence and is an issue that the ATO has to deal with on a regular basis. When calling the ATO to recover your TFN you should expect to be asked a number of questions to prove you are genuine and not a scammer. You could also be invited to record a short “voiceprint”. This form of security will enable the ATO to recognise you next time you call them.

If you are suspicious that your TFN has been stolen and might potentially be illegally misused for criminal activity, it is highly recommended that you call 1800 467 033 between 8am and 6pm on a Monday to Friday (Australian Eastern Standard Time). This number has been established by the ATO as a hotline called the “Client Identity Support Centre”. It is advised that you call this number as soon as you possibly can as the ATO is very serious about tracking down unauthorised TFN’s in a quick manner to prevent the occurrence of fraud and other criminal behaviour.

Before making a call to the ATO to trace your lost TFN, it is recommended that you first try other sources. Consider taking the time to search through your paperwork to see if you possess any documents that have your TFN written on them. These documents include; your income tax “notice of assessment” for a previous year, a payment summary from your employer, any correspondence sent to you from the ATO or an account statement from your superannuation fund.

Another avenue to go down would be to fill in a form provided by the ATO to apply for, or inquire about, a TFN. You will need to order and actual paper form for this process, as the ATO will only process the bona fide paperwork it provides to taxpayers. To enquire about obtaining this paper form call 1300 720 092.

If you are trying to find your lost TFN and you are not currently living in Australia you can contact the ATO main switchboard on +61 2 6216 1111. This phone number is staffed by the ATO between 8am and 5pm AEST on Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).

Permanent migrants and temporary visitors to Australia can apply for a Tax File Number online via the Australian Tax Office’s website at anytime after entering Australia. This option is available to anyone who is: a working holiday-maker, an overseas student and your visa has been amended to allow you to work, a New Zealander and you are automatically granted a visa on arrival, a person with a valid visa allowing you to stay in Australia indefinitely or a person with a business visa.