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.

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.

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.

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, Lisa 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, Lisa wanted to claim an exemption from paying the Medicare levy.

To support her exemption claim, Lisa 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, Lisa 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, Lisa 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, Lisa  was able to correctly claim release from paying the Medicare levy for the 2022-23 income year based on her temporary residency and circumstances.

This article offers a concise summary of several key scenarios in which temporary residents may be eligible for exemptions from the Medicare levy. Nevertheless, tax laws can be intricate, and individual circumstances may entail specific details not covered herein. It is advisable to consult with a qualified accountant if you suspect you might qualify for a Medicare levy exemption.

Your accountant can conduct a comprehensive review of your particular situation, taking into account any dependent-related factors, to accurately assess your eligibility and provide assistance with filing your return as needed.

How can we help?

If you have any questions or would like further information, please feel free to give our office on 08 9221 5522 or via email –  or arrange a time for a meeting so we can discuss your requirements in more detail.


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