Do I Have to Pay Tax When Teaching English Abroad?
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There are not many things that are as unsexy as taxes but sadly it is something we need to consider, even when teaching English abroad. Dealing with finances can be quite tricky even if you did accounting at school but especially if you are living in a foreign country. Knowing if, when and how to pay taxes will give most of us sleepless nights, so let’s try get this sorted out once and for all. Please note that we are not tax specialists and while we trust the sources of this information it is your responsibility to make sure you are aware of the tax implications of your TEFL job. So, do I have to pay tax when teaching English abroad?
For UK citizens, whether or not you will pay tax in the UK while abroad depends on your residence status (in the UK). If you spend less than 16 days in the UK in the tax year, if you weren’t a resident for the previous three tax years and spend less than 46 days in the tax year or have left the UK to work abroad full-time, you are not a resident and do not need to pay tax in the UK. If you are a resident, then you do need to pay tax in the UK. Residency status is affected by complicated things such as property ownership and family ties so make sure you know which status applies to your specific situation.
Either way you will still need to pay local tax of the country you’re in but if the country has a tax treaty with the UK, you may be exempt from paying taxes in both countries.
US citizens earning more than approximately $100 000 a year (or the equivalent in foreign currency) are required to pay tax in the US. If you earn below this amount you are not required to pay tax. However there may be other taxes you will still be liable for, such as capital gains tax. Even if you don’t need to pay any tax you still need to file a return, and you also need to file a Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE). To qualify for a FEIE you need to have spent at least 330 days in 12 consecutive months outside the US.
You will also be liable to pay any taxes in the country you are living, according to that country’s tax laws, but if the country has a tax treaty with the US, you may be exempt from paying taxes in both countries.
South African citizens
South African tax laws also operate on a residency basis. If you are working overseas and spend at least 183 days (about six months) of a year outside South Africa with 60 of those days being continuous, you do not need to pay tax unless you are earning more than R1 million a year. Even if you don’t need to pay tax you should still file a return with Sars.
General tax laws
Generally speaking, you will pay local tax if you are resident in that country. How much tax and what qualifies you as resident depends on the tax laws of the country you are working in. Luckily, if you are employed by a school it is usual for the school to deduct taxes from your salary.
Here are a few tax laws of the most popular TEFL destinations:
South Korea – Schools in South Korea will deduct the local income tax (3 – 5%) from your salary. Plus if you work in a public school you won’t need to pay tax for the first two years of employment – as long as you submit a Residency Certificate. However, you may need to make contributions to a pension scheme (4.5%) and medical insurance (1%). Only American and Canadian teachers are eligible to claim back their pension contributions on completion of their contracts.
Thailand – If you are resident in Thailand for 180 days or more in a year you need to pay tax, which varies from 5% to 35%. Schools in Thailand will deduct tax from your salary.
China – China has a very complicated tax system but income tax varies from 3% to 45%. Schools in China will deduct tax from your salary.
Spain – If you live in Spain for more than 183 days in a year, you are required to pay tax. You are tax-exempt if you earn less than €5 000 a year but that’s unlikely. After that you’ll pay tax on a sliding scale from19 to 45%. If you work for a school they will deduct this tax from your salary, plus 6% for Social Security benefits. If you are self-employed, as many TEFL teachers in Spain are, you will need to pay your own tax and make monthly Social Security payments of between €50 and €250.
United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – Hello tax-free salaries!
Online – You will pay tax in the country where you are resident.
Remember, we are not tax experts and while we are happy to give advice should you have any more questions, we suggest you speak to a registered tax practitioner if you have any serious queries.
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LAST UPDATED: 19th July 2022
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Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.
My name is Kerena Naidu and I am currently staying in Durban, South Africa. However, my actual residence is in Brisbane, Australia. I am unable to return to Australia due to the pandemic. I am considering studying the Online Level 5 TEFL Course. I have several queries:
1. Although I am currently in South Africa, I wish to pay for the course in Australian dollars, from my Australian bank account. Is this possible?
2. If I were to gain employment after completing the course, can my income go directly into my Australian bank account? Or would I have to open a South African bank account and obtain a South African Tax File Number?
3. If my income was transferred directly into my Australian bank account, what would the tax implications be? Would I simply have to file a tax return in Australia?
4. If I had to open a bank account here in SA, would I have to file a tax return in SA? What would the tax implications be?
Any assistance regarding the above queries would be greatly appreciated.