We have been working with Roxby and other remote area workers for over 20 years and during this time have been asked a lot of questions about zone rebate.  

History

The Zone rebate was introduced in 1945 to recognise the disadvantages that people in remote areas encounter.  For example the higher cost of living as compared to other parts of Australia. 

There are three zone categories:

  1. Zone A
  2. Zone B
  3. Special Zone  This has been defined as the most remote of which is more than 250km from the nearest urban centre with a population of 2,500 as at the 1981 census. For example Roxby Downs qualified in 1981 as a Special Zone. 

The ATO has not reviewed the zone categories since 1981, hence places that qualified in 1981 like Roxby Downs still qualify for the rebate.

Living in the Area

In order to be entitled to the Zone Rebate you must “reside” or “be in” the area for more than 183 days.

Therefore Fly-In Fly-Out workers provided that they stay in the remote area even though they may have their permanent home in an area that doesn’t qualify (ie Adelaide) are entitled to the rebate.

Amount

The rebate for the 3 zones are:

Zone A = $57

Zone B = $338

Special Zone = $ 1,173

The amount is a rebate which by definition only reduces the tax you pay, so if you don’t pay any tax then the Zone rebate is not refunded to you.

Spouse & Children

This is where it gets complicated.

The Zone Rebate is not a refund as such, it reduces the taxation payable, as most people receive the amount as a refund in their taxation return they don’t understand the impact with spouses and children if they are not working. 

In the event that you do not pay any tax (for example earn below $18,000 per annum) then the rebate is “lost” to that individual.  In certain circumstances their spouse can claim the rebate on their behalf (this is also the case for Fly-In Fly-Out workers whose spouse may never travel to the remote location).

To qualify to claim your spouse’s zone rebate your taxable income needs to be less than $150,000.

You are also entitled to a smaller rebate for dependent children subject to how much income they receive from investments or work.

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