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Returning expats reminded on tax snares with pensions, investments

With thousands of Australian expats still hoping to return home following COVID-19, a mid-tier firm has highlighted some important tax implications and considerations, including the foreign pension transfers.

     

For expats recently returning to Australia or planning to return, HLB Mann Judd Sydney tax partner, Peter Bembrick warned there can be hefty tax bill involved, depending on the jurisdiction and the length of time spent overseas.

Mr Bembrick said in addition to income tax, expats will need to account for any share holdings, employee share schemes – particularly in the event of a redundancy, cash in offshore banks accounts, and pension funds.

There are a lot of considerations that need to be made with the transfer of money out of foreign pension funds in particular, he said, given the tax nuances in this area.

“You need to make sure you’re across the local requirements and what you need to do to get the money out because there’s usually a fair bit of red tape involved and tax issues on the other side,” he said.

For example, the pension system in jurisdictions such as the UK – where an estimated 40,000 Australians reside at any given time – can create adverse tax consequences, he warned.

In order for an expat to be able to transfer a UK pension benefit to an Australian superannuation fund, the fund must be must be registered with HMRC as a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS). If it is transferred to a non-approved fund, a tax of up to 55 per cent may apply.

To be included on the QROPS list, an Australian superannuation fund must agree to provide ongoing reporting to HMRC, and the fund must restrict the payment of benefits to members aged 55 or older, except in instances of retirement due to ill health.

In terms of US pension funds, Mr Bembrick said there is “still a fair bit of ambiguity around whether some the different US funds such as 401k plans and other types of US pension funds are regarded as being equivalent to an Australian superannuation fund”.

He also noted that for some clients, deciding to leave the money overseas may actually be the best option.

“I was speaking to someone with large amounts in the US and there’s going to be a lot of tax triggered in the US if he takes this money out, so for the moment he’s just going to leave it in place,” he explained.

Its also important, therefore, that expats also consider where they want to retire, he said.

“If they’re not sure that Australia is the place where they’re going to retire then moving everything here may not always be the best answer,” he said.

Mr Bembrick said expats should also be aware that there is a six-month rule where the foreign super interest will generally be tax-free if it is transferred to Australia within six months of them becoming a resident of Australia or their foreign employment terminating.

He also stressed the important of expats seeking specialist advice in this area, given the complexity of the tax laws.

Property is another key consideration that they need to make, he added.

“Some countries charge non-residents a higher rate of transaction tax or tax capital gains on profits from property investments and, in Australia, if you’ve retained property while abroad, you may be better to move back first before selling,” he said.

“This applies particularly to the former family home, as non-residents selling property are now excluded from the CGT main residence exemption and the related ‘six-year absence’ rule.”

Mr Bembrick noted that the CGT discount on the sale of investment properties is not available for any period after 8 May 2012, during which someone is a non-resident.

“For investment properties already owned at the time they left to move overseas, there will need to be an apportionment of the CGT discount for the relevant periods. A similar apportionment applies for periods between the date they return to Australia and a later property sale,” he explained.

Shares and managed funds will also need to be carefully assessed, he said, particularly if someone has become a non-resident during their time overseas.

“These types of investments are generally treated under the CGT rules as having been sold at their market value at the time that tax residency changed, triggering deemed capital gains or losses,” he said.

“The good news is there would be no further Australian CGT implications if these assets are actually sold while a non-resident. However, if they are still owned when Australian tax residency is resumed, they – along with any new investments – will be deemed to be re-acquired at that time for their current market value, so any future capital gains or losses on sale would relate only to the movement in value during the second period of Australian tax residency.”

 

 

Miranda Brownlee
07 January 2021
smsfadviser.com

 


David Forrest Download David's Adviser Profile

David Forrest

Director
BEc (Acc), MBA, CPA, FFin

David has been in the Financial Services Industry for nearly 30 years. He was one of the founding Directors of the successful Financial Planning and Stockbroking Practice, Henderson Gregory Forrest, for a decade. Prior to that, he held senior roles in companies such as ING, KPMG Accountants and AMP. David was previously Chairman of OAMPS Superannuation Trustee Board and currently serves as an independent Board Director for several companies.

David’s extensive experience in all forms of superannuation, including Self Managed Super Funds (SMSF), Defined Benefit Funds, retirement funding through Account Based Pensions, stockbroking with a focus on Direct Share Investment, Taxation/Remuneration Planning, Centrelink, Aged Care and business management, equip him to advise expertly on all aspects of Financial Advice.

Those with a particular interest in superannuation/SMSFs, direct share investment, salary packaging or applying for the Centrelink Pension will find his knowledge and ability in formulating and implementing creative, logical and simple wealth creation strategies a valuable asset.

David maintains a strong personalised client service focus, providing tailored solutions for clients.

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David Forrest is an Authorised Representative of Integrity Financial (SA) Pty Ltd ABN 16 133 921 187 — AFSL No 334846

Michelle Forrest

Michelle Forrest

Business Finance Manager
B Bus (Acc), CPA

Michelle’s career has spanned across the Financial Services, Retirement Living and Aged Care industries working in the private sector, not for profit and more recently with the state government for over 20 years. Her experience extends to many facets of the financial services industry, having worked in superannuation administration, technical support and financial planning practice administration.

Commencing with AMP and subsequently working in commerce and accounting roles with companies such as Brambles, Adelaide Bank Retirement Services, ECH Inc and SA Health and Wellbeing, Michelle returns to financial services after working in practice financial management at Henderson Gregory Forrest. This wide range of experience from senior accounting and management roles has provided Michelle with a strong background in business administration.

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Darren Chalk

Financial Adviser
B Com, Dip FP

Darren joins the Integrity team as a strong technical specialist with almost 20 years’ in the Financial Services industry. He has extensive experience advising clients on how to build and protect wealth, prepare for retirement and retire comfortably.

Commencing with advising clients on direct equities for over 10 years at Baker Young, Tolhurst Noall, and ABN AMRO Morgans, his career expanded to providing holistic client advice, having operated his own financial services licence and company. Most recently having worked for a 'Big 4' bank, he has welcomed the more personalised ‘client first’ approach that is evident at Integrity Financial Advisory.

With a deep understanding of investment markets, he is appropriately qualified and authorised to provide direct share advice, as well as superannuation/SMSF advice, encompassing both investments and insurance.

Meticulous in his approach, he aims to deliver quality outcomes for clients by understanding their financial situation and needs before providing advice which is central to our advice process. Darren supports David in tailoring solutions for all client financial advice needs.

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Darren Chalk is an Authorised Representative of Integrity Financial (SA) Pty Ltd ABN 16 133 921 187 — AFSL No 334846

Natasha Bartlett

Natasha Bartlett

Client Service Manager

Natasha commenced working in the financial services industry in June 2008 and is a new addition to the Integrity team. During the past 11 years, she worked closely with advisers providing administration support in a share broking and financial advice business.

Having successfully completed her RG146 accreditation in securities and managed investments and continued her studies to complete her competency in Superannuation, Natasha can ably assist with all aspects of fixed interest, cash management, portfolio administration, direct shares and client advice implementation.

Natasha takes time to ensure she understands our client’s financial goals and needs and believes in creating, preserving and utilising wealth through effective financial management as a key objective in helping clients.

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Kelly Collins

Kelly Collins

Client Service Manager

Kelly has worked in the Financial Services Industry for over 10 years and has supported David since 2013. Kelly’s primary background is in customer service and administration.

On starting in the industry, Kelly initially focused on direct shares, stockbroking administration and client liaison. Since moving to the Client Service Manager role, Kelly has developed skills encompassing all aspects of financial planning including client advice implementation and term deposit management.

Kelly’s experience in the direct share environment, especially management of estates, provides a key part of the direct equity expertise in Integrity’s Client Service Team.

Returning from Parental Leave following the arrival of her second child, Kelly has developed further honed multi-tasking skills after juggling the demands of a growing family.

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Jasmine Smith

Jasmine Smith

Client Service Manager

Jasmine has worked in the financial services industry for over 12 years in all areas of client administration, working with David since 2013.

Jasmine has extensive knowledge and experience in client service including implementation of advice, portfolio reporting, assisting with the establishment of Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs), term deposit management and a long history of helping clients with their enquiries.

Jasmine’s attention to detail, yet gentle approach, means she is able to solve the trickiest of questions for our client community.

Jasmine has gained her Certificate III in Financial Services qualification.

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Merrilyn Smith

Merrilyn Smith

Client Service Manager

Merrilyn has worked in the financial services industry for over 11 years in all areas of client administration, and is a new addition to our client services team, returning from Melbourne to join the team in June 2019.

Merrilyn has extensive knowledge and experience in client service including implementation of advice, managed fund administration, assisting with the establishment of Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) and process improvement for the previous practices she has worked with. Merrilyn’s experience with direct shares constitutes the other part of our administrative support for direct equity investments.

Merrilyn’s warm and caring nature continues to endear her to our clients and she has already established herself as a valued member of our team.

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