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Tax Refunds For Teachers In Thailand

If you’re leaving Thailand after fulfilling a one or two-year teaching contract, then you’re entitled to get all of your tax back. However, the process isn’t as easy as you might assume. If your school offered to help with the process, then read on.

In 2014 I moved to Pattaya and started working at one of the city’s best international schools. As it was my first expat experience in Thailand, I was aware that at the end of the initial two-year contract, I was entitled to claim my tax back if I were to leave.

Now I know us teachers aren’t exactly in it for the money, but a bit of extra coin is a nice bonus at the end of your stay if it’s offered. So when I decided to head to pastures new in Australia, I set the ball rolling with the tax refund.

A couple of months before finishing school, a good teacher friend told me that she was meeting a tax agent to help her get her tax back. As the school said they’d help with the process, I questioned way she was bothering. I couldn’t figure out why she wanted to pay someone to help her when the school did it for free as a service to their teachers.

She then started telling me about many teachers who left previously and tried to get a tax refund with the schools help but with zero success, and began name dropping all the teachers that’d be using the agent this year.

“Do you really believe the school will help?” she said. “They even messed up helping me with my police check last week!”

She had a point. After a bit more convincing and reading a few blog posts, I decided to meet the tax man, Stephen Dann.


Steven was a really nice guy and laid things straight. Basically my friend was right, it’s highly unlikely that any school would be able to obtain a tax refund for their teachers.

It quickly became apparent that most school administrators, despite having the best intentions, are just not skilled enough to work through this complicated process with the Tax Authorities, who make it very difficult for your average HR worker.

I was informed that workers in the Thai authorities don’t agree with foreigners (teachers or not) coming to their country to take money off them. Therefore, any officer can decline an application on-the-spot for no particular reason or at least make the process extremely difficult.

And if one officer refuses your case, then HR are unlikely to pursue trying with another or even appeal it, to avoid losing face, even though they know you’re entitled to the money.


In addition to the difficulties that the Thai authorities pose, known ‘dodgy dealings’ from the school’s themselves are not unheard of.

I’ve been told about fraudulent school owners who mislead HR and give them wrong guidance to benefit their own pockets. There’s a true case of a school principal who lost-out in obtaining all his refund because of corruption from the top.

Other real cautionary tales include schools not deducting tax from teachers who are on their initial two-year contract, in the hope that they won’t renew. This can play out in one of two ways. Either you do leave and HR claim they were ‘unsuccessful’ at getting your refund [code for: we spent your money.] Or you decide to renew, only to find out that you haven’t been paying any tax.

There have been many cases of the Thai tax office reclaiming this unpaid tax, and (get this) the school then charging teachers double tax due to ‘changes in policy’!

Therefore do not see this tax treaty as a bonus for working in Thailand if you expect to get it all back.

Don’t get confused, get help!

Thankfully my scepticism quickly subsided when I met Stephen and two years later [post edited in July 2018], I can say that he was worth every penny.

All I had to do was furnish him with a few documents at the beginning of our agreement and then he did all of the legwork. I received the complete tax refund in the timeframe that Stephen specified and the transfer of funds was swift. He was always on standby to answer any questions I had, as well as being helpful, informative and extremely knowledgeable.

The 2015 tax money was received right before Christmas [in the same year I left Thailand] and the remaining six months of tax from 2016 was also successfully transferred around November the following year.

It can’t be easy to work around the Thai authorities at the best of times. In an industry riddled with corruption, Stephen’s high success rate speaks for itself and I’d highly recommend him to any teacher.

English Tax Agent in Thailand

Stephen Dann has an excellent portfolio of success stories and his services are used by many teachers throughout Thailand. You can check out his website for more info and contact details.

I am not receiving any benefits from promoting Stephen, I simply want to help fellow teachers 🙂

You may want to buy Stephen one of these when he’s done 🙂

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