Are You Exempt From Paying The Medicare Levy?

This is a bit of an ATO (Australian Taxation Office) secret, but under certain circumstances you may be entitled to claim any Medicare Levy you’ve paid during the year back if you’re deemed exempt. In this article, we’ll check if you’re exempt from paying the Medicare Levy!

Claiming a Medicare Exemption

If you were considered a temporary resident of Australia for Medicare purposes during a particular period, you may be eligible for a full exemption from the Medicare levy. To claim this exemption, you will need a Medicare Entitlement statement confirming your temporary resident status for that time. Additionally, one of the following criteria must also apply:

  • You did not have any dependents during the period for which you are claiming the exemption. A dependent in this context would generally mean a spouse or child who relies on you financially. If you had no one relying on you for support, you meet these criteria.
  • Any dependents you did have, including a spouse, must also have fallen into a Medicare levy exemption category themselves for the entire period you are claiming as exempt. This ensures not only the primary resident but also anyone relying on them financially would have been ineligible to access Australia’s public healthcare system subsidized by the Medicare levy.

By providing documentation of your temporary residency along with confirmation you met one of these two additional criteria, you can submit a valid claim for a full exemption from the Medicare levy for that specified period.

Member of a diplomatic mission or consular post in Australia Medicare exemption

If you were a member of a diplomatic mission or consular post in Australia, you may qualify for an exemption from paying the Medicare levy. This exemption can also apply to family members who were living with someone in one of those roles. To claim the exemption, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • You cannot be an Australian citizen and must not ordinarily live in Australia. As a diplomat or consular worker on a temporary assignment, this requirement ensures you maintain your permanent residency elsewhere.
  • You must not have had any dependents relying on you financially for the period being claimed as exempt. Dependents would include a spouse or children under your care and financial support.
  • If you did have dependents, they must have fallen under another Medicare levy exemption category for their own circumstances for the entire period. This includes if your spouse had a separate diplomatic role themselves, for example.

Provided all three of those criteria are met – diplomatic role, non-citizen status, and dependent exemption qualifications – individuals in diplomatic or consular positions and their family members living with them can claim exemption from paying the Medicare levy.


Medicare Entitlement Statement

The Medicare Entitlement Statement (MES) is an important document issued by Services Australia that indicates the specific period within an income year that you were not entitled to receive Medicare benefits. However, possessing an MES alone does not guarantee you qualify for exemption from paying the Medicare levy.

The MES serves to demonstrate your lack of Medicare entitlement for a certain timeframe, but you must also meet additional criteria. All dependents relying on you financially during the period stated on the MES must separately fall under a Medicare levy exemption category in their own right.

Dependents in this context refer to anyone who relies on you for their primary financial support, such as a spouse or children. If any of your dependents did not have their own grounds for exemption, you would not meet the requirements despite what is shown on your Medicare Entitlement Statement.

Pro Tax Tip: Services Australia are experiencing processing delays for all 2023 MES applications.

Applying for an MES and lodging your tax return

If you believe you may qualify for exemption from the Medicare levy, your first step is to apply for a Medicare Entitlement Statement (MES) from Services Australia. Even though you have received an exemption previously, you cannot assume it will automatically apply again – a new MES application is required each year.

It is important to initiate the MES application process as early as possible to allow sufficient time for processing before your tax return is due. Services Australia can take up to 8 weeks to fully review your application and issue the official MES document.

For this reason, you should wait until receiving the completed MES before attempting to lodge your tax return. Trying to submit a return prematurely without the MES risks submitting incorrect or incomplete information.

Once your MES has been provided, you can then accurately complete and lodge your tax return with the Australian Taxation Office. They will assess your Medicare levy requirements based on the details in your application materials and MES. This ensures any exemption is correctly applied.

Scenario 1 – Medicare Exemption Approved

In the 2022-23 income year, Priya was residing in Australia on a Temporary Skill Shortage visa and had no dependents relying on her financially. As she was not entitled to Medicare benefits during this period, Priya wanted to claim an exemption from paying the Medicare levy.

To support her exemption claim, Priya needed to obtain a Medicare Entitlement Statement (MES) from Services Australia. This document would confirm the dates within 2022-23 that she did not have Medicare access. It can take up to 8 weeks to receive an MES after applying.

After submitting her application, Priya waited patiently and eventually received the MES in the mail. It stated she was not eligible for Medicare benefits between July 1st, 2022 through June 30th, 2023 – covering the entire tax year. She kept the MES on file for her records.

With documentation showing her 12 month lack of Medicare access while having no dependents, Priya qualified for a full year exemption. When completing her 2022-23 tax return, she indicated 365 exemption days and confirmed having an MES from Services Australia.

By following these steps, Priya was able to correctly claim release from paying the Medicare levy for the 2022-23 income year based on her temporary residency and circumstances.

Scenario 2 – Medicare Exemption Not Approved

In the 2022-23 income year, Jed was living in Australia on a Temporary Skill Shortage visa. Like the previous year, he had a spouse he considered as his dependent. While Jed himself was not entitled to Medicare benefits, he wanted to claim exemption from the levy.

Jed applied for and received a Medicare Entitlement Statement (MES) confirming his lack of eligibility stretched from July 1st, 2022 through June 30th, 2023. His spouse in Australia was entitled to Medicare coverage over this same period.

Even though the MES validated Jed’s personal circumstances, he was unable to claim the full-year exemption. This was because his spouse, as his dependent, did not meet the additional requirement of being in a Medicare levy exemption category themselves.

As his spouse had access to Medicare benefits despite Jed’s own ineligibility, Jed did not satisfy all criteria needed to qualify for release from paying the Medicare levy for the 2022-23 tax year. The MES alone could not override the fact his dependent’s status did not align with exemption requirements.

Therefore, Jed was not able to utilize the Medicare levy exemption, as one of the conditions for temporary residents with dependents was not fulfilled in his tax year situation.

Tax Agent Expertise

This article provided a brief overview of some of the main Medicare levy exemption scenarios that can apply to temporary residents. However, tax regulations can be complex and individual situations may involve unique details not captured here. It’s always recommended to seek the expertise of a professional tax agent if you believe you may qualify for a Medicare levy exemption. A tax agent can thoroughly review your specific circumstances, including any dependent considerations, to best determine your eligibility and assist with filing your return accordingly.