by Paul Bidmeade

Over the years temporary residents have left behind millions of dollars’ worth of unclaimed superannuation.

As of December 31 2014, there was $550 million worth of unclaimed superannuation from former Australian temporary residents.

The Australian Taxation Office revealed that by the end of 2014 there were 770,000 accounts of unclaimed super from former temporary residents.

A spokesperson from the ATO said “employees are entitled to super guarantee contributions from an employer if they are between 18 and 69 years old (inclusive) and paid $450 or more (before tax) in a month. It doesn’t matter whether they are full time, part time or casual, and it doesn’t matter if they are an Australian or a temporary resident of Australia.”

“The superannuation cost of employing a temporary resident is neither higher nor lower than employing an Australian resident,” the spokesperson said.

Migration Solutions interviewed BDO Tax Consultant Tim Edgecombe to find out more about unclaimed superannuation for temporary residents.

For eligible temporary residents working in Australia, your employer has to make super guarantee contributions, yet once a temporary resident’s visa has expired thousands of dollars are often unclaimed by the individual.

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The Australian Taxation Office provides information for temporary residents on how to claim the ‘Departing Australia superannuation payment’ (DASP).

Who can claim DASP

  • Migrants on a temporary visa (excluding visa subclasses 405 and 410)
  • Your visa has ceased to be in effect

Who cannot claim a DASP?

  • Australian citizens
  • New Zealand citizens
  • Permanent Australian residents
  • Retirement visa holders
  • Investor retirement visa holders

How to claim DASP?

You can claim your super money by submitting the following information to the Australian Taxation Office: For more information.

  • Personal details – your name and date of birth
  • email address
  • passport country and number
  • Australian tax file number (TFN).

Below is our interview with BDO Tax Consultant Tim Edgecombe:

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Migration Solutions:  If I’m leaving Australia, is there anything that I need to remember to do before I leave?

Tim Edgecombe: “Yes. One matter which can be very beneficial to consider is, strangely enough, your superannuation.  If you are leaving Australia because you’re temporary visa is about to expire you can be eligible to take your superannuation savings with you.  This could amount to several thousand dollars.”

Migration Solutions: How many people is this likely to effect?

Tim Edgecombe: “In the vast majority of cases, if you have worked in Australia, your employer is required to make superannuation contributions on your behalf equal to 9.5% of the amount you earned. This amount is required to be paid directly to a superannuation fund. Any employment contract or other agreement which attempts to make you wave your rights to superannuation is not effective.”

Migration Solutions: Isn’t superannuation locked away until I retire?

Tim Edgecombe: “For most people it is.  However, if you have been in Australia on a temporary resident visa (excluding visa class 405 and 410) which is now coming to an end, you are allowed to ask the superannuation fund to pay you the money that has accumulated in your account.  There is no restriction on how you use the money once it is paid to you.”

Migration Solutions: What is the cost of withdrawing my superannuation funds?

Tim Edgecombe: “There is tax to pay on the amount withdrawn at a rate of 38%.  You could avoid paying this tax if you were prepared to wait until you were 60 years old but as that may be a long way off it could be better to pay the tax to access the fund now. You also may have forgotten about it by the time you reach 60 or you could have lost the details necessary to claim the payment easily.”

Migration Solutions: Does this affect my ability to return to Australia?

Tim Edgecombe:  “No. You could use the money you receive to pay for another visa application.”

Migration Solutions: Will my superannuation balance grow if I leave it in Australia?

Tim Edgecombe: “No, or at least not by much.  Six months after you leave Australia your money is transferred out of the superannuation fund and held by the Australian Tax Office. They will pay you a minimal rate of interest (for example the interest rate for 2015/16 is 1.33%).”

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