2015 Federal Budget – What Are The Key Points for Aussie Expats

2015 Federal Budget – What Are The Key Points for Aussie Expats
Federal Budget Expat Edition

 

13/05/2015 – Well what a difference a year makes. With the 2015 Federal Budget dust starting to settle we have trolled through the reams of announcements to deliver below a list of what may affect Australian expats .

  • Non-resident Tax Rate – There hasn’t been any changes to the non-resident tax rate.
  • Higher Education Loan Program (Formerly Known As HECS) – the government has announced that the repayment of HELP debt will be extended to those who are planning or are now residing outside of Australia. From 2016-17 HELP debtors residing overseas for six months or more will be required to make repayments if their worldwide income exceeds the minimum repayment threshold of A$53,345 (currently in the 2014–15 financial year). The new arrangements will apply from 1 January 2016 to both new and existing debts and will require debtors to register with the ATO who go overseas while those already overseas have until the 1st of July 2017 to register. Repayment obligations will commence from the 1st of July 2017 for income earned in the 2016-17 financial year. We found the graphic used by the government (click on the image below) to explain their decision quite humorous because according to them every Aussie expat is a investment banker living in London earning A$250,000.

Aussie Expat HELP debt

  • Unclaimed Money – in 2012 the previous government changed the rules whereby any bank account that was deemed to be inactive after 3 years was to be transferred to the government and the owner would have to claim the funds back. By inactive they meant that if there where no credits or debits on the account and excluded credit interest and bank fees. A lot of Aussie expats would leave an account opened in Australia when they moved overseas and a sum would be left in that account to keep the account opened to save them having to go through the process of reopening one if/when they returned. Its good to see that the government has restored the previous time frame of 7 years (instead of 3) which in our opinion is more realistic. The number of expats that we’ve had to help to try and track down balances was growing every month and its good to see a bit of commonsense return.

 

  • Lost & Unclaimed Super – from the 1st of July 2016 the government will remove redundant reporting obligations and streamline lost and unclaimed superannuation administration arrangements. This is good news as it will make it easier for us to track down super that has been lost by Australian expats if they are/have been overseas for a while. We are always trying to get the message out to Australian expats that just because they move overseas doesn’t mean they should forgot their super and sometimes those that do lose track of what they have find it difficult locating what is rightfully theirs. If you would like assistance in tracking down your super get in contact with us (click here) and we’ll help you get sorted out.

 

  • Aged Pension Changes – from the 1st of January 2017 the Federal Government will be reducing from 26 weeks to 6 weeks the period that some recipients of the Age Pension, Wife Pension, Widow B Pension and Disability Support Pension can be paid their full basic means-tested rate while absent from Australia. After six weeks absence from Australia, pensioners who have lived in Australia for less than 35 years will be paid at a reduced rate proportional to their period of Australian Working Life Residence (AWLR). Pensioners overseas on the date of implementation will not be affected by this change unless they return to Australia and make a subsequent trip overseas. Pensioners with a AWLR of 35 years or more, or who are exempt from proportionality rules, such as recipients of the Disability Support Pension who are terminally ill or severely impaired and certain Widow B Pension and Wife Pension recipients will not be affected. This is of particular importance to mainly parents of Aussie expats who may visit their families overseas from time to time.

If you have any questions with respect to the above budget announcements or any other financial matters as a Australian expat then do not hesitate to Contact Us for a free no obligation discussion.

Brett Evans is the Managing Director and a Financial Planner with Atlas Wealth Management which is the first financial services firm in Australia to specialise in providing financial advice to Australian expatriates. With over 20 years of experience in the finance and investments industry, Brett has worked for blue chip companies which include the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), HSBC, Suncorp and Citi Smith Barney.

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