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Has anyone claimed their super from Australia while living in Thailand?


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I plan to get to my super, hopefully without penalties or tax early next year when I turn 60. I have no plans to go back and certainly hope I don't have to go to Australia to sort it out. Already made some enquiries before and made sure they have verified copies of my ID (had to get everything signed and witnessed by notary public here at 2000-1000 baht a page). So everything should be in place and I believe you just send them the withdrawal application and wait around 2 weeks. I think you may even be able to do it through secure mail on their site

 

Has anyone done this while living here? (Without returning to Australia) Was it fairly simple? My Super company Colonial First state are pretty awful in every respect. Remind me of a 70's insurance company where they like taking the premiums but not paying out when due and are difficult to contact, avoidance tactics etc. I did try to change early this year but doing it from Thailand was just too much of a hassle. Communication with these people are awful...I am guessing they are loathe to put anything in writing and would be very difficult unless you can walk in their office and eyeball them. Even then I doubt you would get any service. 

 

I may not draw all of it out at once. Is that also possible? you can just leave it there and draw down on it as needed? Not sure if they have any minimum amount you need to withdraw every time but that is no problem. If you make a small first draw does that mean you will be taxed on any interest earned on the balance after that?

 

I had people before suggesting using it like a pension but was warned off saying there can be tax implications...I don't know the details but as far as I know Super is untaxed providing you are at maturity age....and you have to make sure you don't change it to something that can be taxable if that makes sense. And the problem for me is I have been out of the country over 2 years (8 years actually) and don't own property so I am a "non resident for tax purposes"....which means any tax I need to pay is at the full rate...as if I were a foreigner. I have been assured though should I wait until 60yo there will be no tax. I was born in Australia and am still a citizen. I hope this is true.

 

And all that going well not really sure what to do with the money or even if I should leave it in there. We're not talking sheep stations or millions of dollars here by the way. Performance over the last 8 years has been atrocious but have had it in a very safe non risky fund so returns in line with that. Then there was Covid, then there was Ukraine. Funnily enough just seems to have bounced back to where it was 5 years ago. I was hoping in the 8 years I have been here it would have nearly doubled but financial bad luck and bad timing has been the story of my life. I have no knowledge of the stock market and from what I hear going to a financial adviser is risky at best....To be honest the state of the world at the moment I would imagine unless you had a crystal ball no one can really predict what wuld be a safe earning investment. 

 

So at the least hoping someone can help me re their experience drawing down on their money. And any other advice, comments etc on the rest of it. Will be appreciated.. Feel free to PM directly if you wish

 

 

 

 

Edited by Kenny202
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I'm going to be in the same boat less than 2 years ago, but have my own SMSF.  If you are older than 60 the only thing to access the super AFAIK is to declare you are not working and don't intend to work anymore. However you can change your mind later😄

 

This shouldn't require any complex documentation requiring notary, just a declaration. You can get all the money tax free (lump sum), or income stream (pension), your fund probably is going to charge you small yearly fee to handle the pension setup and payments.

 

Be aware that once the money as a lump sum is out of super, if you invest it becomes "normal" investment where any profit is taxable.

 

There are probably people in this forum who went already through this and can give better advice.

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7 minutes ago, gearbox said:

I'm going to be in the same boat less than 2 years ago, but have my own SMSF.  If you are older than 60 the only thing to access the super AFAIK is to declare you are not working and don't intend to work anymore. However you can change your mind later😄

 

This shouldn't require any complex documentation requiring notary, just a declaration. You can get all the money tax free (lump sum), or income stream (pension), your fund probably is going to charge you small yearly fee to handle the pension setup and payments.

 

Be aware that once the money as a lump sum is out of super, if you invest it becomes "normal" investment where any profit is taxable.

 

There are probably people in this forum who went already through this and can give better advice.

Thanks bro. I did delve into the pension thing a while ago and I couldn't really see any difference or benefit in getting a pension over just drawing the money down yourself as need. Obviously in maybe once a year lump sums. Is there something maybe I am missing there? I think I was told you could withdraw lumps of money when you wanted it leaving the balance in the fund? The Super company wont give any financial advice at all, in fact I don't think they are allowed to.

 

Because of my birth date I believe I can actually draw on my money at 58yo but no one, including the Super company seems to be able to tell me if there are tax implications and you don't know until it's done. Went through a ridiculous thing with them where they were saying ask your tax agent....and my tax agent was saying how would I know? they have all the details of contributions etc...I don't. My super is pretty basic employer contributions....there were never any lump sum or salary sacrifice contributions.  

 

I have asked some of these questions before without much luck. usually guys like us expecting to get their money in a year or two but hadn't done it yet. Thanks again for your help mate

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Normally in this situation you would engage a Financial Planner to cost out the various options and identify the most favourable one. However as you have found out they are not allowed to give financial advice to non-residents, which makes things a bit more difficult for you.

 

Looking at your options in a systematic way, may give you some more clarity.

 

For example at 60 years:

Option 1: Close Super Account, transfer money offshore, invest elsewhere.

Option 2: Convert Super Account to Pension and draw down (monthly or annually)

 

For each option, write down the risks and benefits.

 

As you go through the exercise, write down any questions and then use Google to ultimately make a decision.

 

Try not to overthink it with multiple scenarios or risks as it just becomes too confusing, but at least try to consider the larger risks and probability.

 

 

 

 

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I have super back in Oz. I have set up so a nominated amount each fortnight is transfered into my ANZ bank account. Then whenever I need I do online transfer here to LOS. That's via OFX, much better exchange rate than the banks. I receive money same day if booked early am. I have on a few ocassions needed a "chunk" of $$$$ from super. Call Super firm back in Oz, answer a few security questions & money paid into ANZ account. Transfer takes a day or sometimes two. You can request funds to be transfered to a bank account via super company website but this often takes much longer. A two minute phone call is the way to go. Extremely easy. If I can do it anyone can.

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Kenny202 - from my reading you are asking 3 sets of questions.

 

Firstly, can you get Australian super while in Thailand.  Answer - yes, but it may depend on your fund.  About 9 years ago my fund could only pay into an Australia-based bank; now international deposits can be made into banks in most countries.  I prefer my pension to be paid into a bank in Australia - higher interest rates, and I can choose when to transfer money here when the exchange rate is "good".

 

Secondly, can arrangements be made to get your pension while OS .  Answer - yes, but it may depend on your fund.  I was able to do it 9 years ago just via email.

 

Thirdly, lump sum, pension, draw down, and taxation.  These all really depends on your financial circumstances, whether you have paid tax on your contributions when they went in (rather than when you withdraw), etc., etc., etc.  If your fund cannot answer these questions, then you need to get documentation from your fund about your entitlements, and seek advice from an Australian financial adviser (you can ask family/friend in Australia to do the latter on your behalf).  Personally, I paid tax on my contributions as they went in, so I would not have to pay tax on the pension after I reached 60 years old.  I took a pension, rather than lump sum, as I calculated that I would be better off over the long-term.  10 years later, I have no regrets with my decision.

 

Good luck.

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1 hour ago, JimHuaHin said:

Kenny202 - from my reading you are asking 3 sets of questions.

 

Firstly, can you get Australian super while in Thailand.  Answer - yes, but it may depend on your fund.  About 9 years ago my fund could only pay into an Australia-based bank; now international deposits can be made into banks in most countries.  I prefer my pension to be paid into a bank in Australia - higher interest rates, and I can choose when to transfer money here when the exchange rate is "good".

 

Secondly, can arrangements be made to get your pension while OS .  Answer - yes, but it may depend on your fund.  I was able to do it 9 years ago just via email.

 

so I would not have to pay tax on the pension after I reached 60 years old.  I took a pension, rather than lump sum, as I calculated that I would be better off over the long-term.  10 years later, I have no regrets with my decision.

 

Good luck.

Firstly, can you get Australian super while in Thailand.  Answer - yes, but it may depend on your fund.  About 9 years ago my fund could only pay into an Australia-based bank; now international deposits can be made into banks in most countries.  I prefer my pension to be paid into a bank in Australia - higher interest rates, and I can choose when to transfer money here when the exchange rate is "good".

 

Into my Australian bank will be fine. I would rather control how I send it here and maximize ex rate.

 

Thirdly, lump sum, pension, draw down, and taxation.  These all really depends on your financial circumstances, whether you have paid tax on your contributions when they went in (rather than when you withdraw), etc., etc., etc.  If your fund cannot answer these questions, then you need to get documentation from your fund about your entitlements, and seek advice from an Australian financial adviser (you can ask family/friend in Australia to do the latter on your behalf).  Personally, I paid tax on my contributions as they went in

 

Not sure if you will be able to answer this....but my contributions were all bog standard employer contributions. No salary sacrifice or lump sum contributions. Would there have likely been tax paid on these as employer contributions. Going to a financial adviser or accountant to find this information is pointless (tried it before) as they just don't have the information available to them. Only the super company has the records and info and they don't seem to want to check on it. Pretty much there attitude is we wont know until we process it.

 

I took a pension, rather than lump sum, as I calculated that I would be better off over the long-term. 

 

Here is the part I really don't understand, and that is how a pension is more beneficial financially than leaving the money invested and just drawing down as required. Is there a higher interest rate for money invested in a pension scheme? The only thing for me might be making me a bit more disciplined having to live on a specific budget. I was also vaguely warned against setting up a pension as if not done correctly you could also void the tax free thing as a non resident and you are converting your tax free super to a different entity. I must say at the time it didn't really sound right to me

 

I am quite loathe to go to a financial planner. From what I understand they try and steer you to what is more in their interests, and to be honest remotely from Thailand I wouldn't know where to start. I would only consider using one on a strong recommendation from someone else.

 

Appreciate your detailed reply and hope you can give me some insights into the benefits of pension over draw down

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Kenny202 you should have no problems organising your Super from Thailand. I am in a similar situation to you - my Super was available to me a few years ago, & it could be withdrawn tax free, but as I was still earning from other sources, and paying Tax in Oz - I haven’t touched it. I am able to access my Super online (Australian Super) & organise payout, transition to retirement account, or set up a ‘pension’ type drawdown account. After preservation age has been reached there should be no tax implications for you.

It may be worthwhile looking at the Australian Super website just to get some clearer information. I am definitely not touting for them - but I feel your pain with CFS. I had several employees that used this fund, and even as an employer - I found CFS to be a pack of shunts to deal with.

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15 minutes ago, Kenny202 said:

Here is the part I really don't understand, and that is how a pension is more beneficial financially than leaving the money invested and just drawing down as required. Is there a higher interest rate for money invested in a pension scheme? The only thing for me might be making me a bit more disciplined having to live on a specific budget

My super will allow me to set up a drawdown account, that is still invested in the ‘stream’ of my choice. I could still take extra lump withdrawals as required at any time.  Check to see if CFS has similar options. That way your remaining super balance is still working for you. 

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I accessed some Australian super earlier this year (for the first time), it was pretty easy, really wasn't that much different to doing some online banking, transferring funds etc.

I'm 61 so no no tax etc, it was as easy as how much, were to send it, and it came through in 2-3 days.

(paid into an Australian account, then I transferred to Thai)

Edited by Peterw42
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I draw Super from a First Colonial account (amongst other incomes). I withdrew a lump sum and converted the rest into an Allocated Pension.

 

The advantage of an Allocated Pension is that it is tax free. You must take a minimum 4% as a pension that can be paid monthly or fortnightly. You can also make a cash withdrawal at any time without penalty.

 

It has been financially beneficial for me. I started out with $200,000 about 10 years ago and have been getting $600 -$800 per month paid as a pension.  Plus I routinely withdraw $10,000 lump sum per year for a holiday. When I last checked (a few months ago) my account had $220,000 in it. It obviously goes up and down depending upon the stock market. If it gets much above $210,000, I normally shift the excess from geared shares into more conservative shares.

 

My money gets paid into my Australian bank account and I transfer it to Thailand using BPay through ForEx. BPay transfers have higher limits when transferring larger amounts and attract less bank attention/fees.

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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, G Rex said:

Kenny202 you should have no problems organising your Super from Thailand. I am in a similar situation to you - my Super was available to me a few years ago, & it could be withdrawn tax free, but as I was still earning from other sources, and paying Tax in Oz - I haven’t touched it. I am able to access my Super online (Australian Super) & organise payout, transition to retirement account, or set up a ‘pension’ type drawdown account. After preservation age has been reached there should be no tax implications for you.

It may be worthwhile looking at the Australian Super website just to get some clearer information. I am definitely not touting for them - but I feel your pain with CFS. I had several employees that used this fund, and even as an employer - I found CFS to be a pack of shunts to deal with.

Thanks mate, yes they certainly are! They recently had a class action against them for mismanagement and had to pay out around $500 mill I believe. Management driving around in luxury cars etc. Not sure what they are like now, haven't dealt directly with them for a year or two but they were totally useless as far as direct answers to questions etc, very evasive. Would make zero effort. Reminded me of the entitled attitude of banks in Australia back in the 70's 80's were they were treating your money as if it were theirs...(in all the wrong ways) and acting as if you should be bowing and scraping to them. I am hoping after their wake up call and public shaming they have made some improvements

Edited by Kenny202
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31 minutes ago, G Rex said:

My super will allow me to set up a drawdown account, that is still invested in the ‘stream’ of my choice. I could still take extra lump withdrawals as required at any time.  Check to see if CFS has similar options. That way your remaining super balance is still working for you. 

But from what I understand I can still leave my money in current super.....change funds etc and draw down as I like anyway. The only difference with a pension is there is a formal amount transferred regularly.

 

Not disputing your choice or doubting you here by the way, and appreciate your advice. I am sure I must be mossing something. It's just on the surface I don't see or understand the benefits of a pension over and above just leaving it in the existing fund. I assume you can leave your Super in the fund and draw down on it as required after maturity age? Can you clarify what the benefits are over and above what you have mentioned.

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30 minutes ago, Stevemercer said:

I draw Super from a First Colonial account (amongst other incomes). I withdrew a lump sum and converted the rest into an Allocated Pension.

 

The advantage of an Allocated Pension is that it is tax free. You must take a minimum 4% as a pension that can be paid monthly or fortnightly. You can also make a cash withdrawal at any time without penalty.

 

It has been financially beneficial for me. I started out with $200,000 about 10 years ago and have been getting $600 -$800 per month paid as a pension.  Plus I routinely withdraw $10,000 lump sum per year for a holiday. When I last checked (a few months ago) my account had $220,000 in it. It obviously goes up and down depending upon the stock market. If it gets much above $210,000, I normally shift the excess from geared shares into more conservative shares.

 

My money gets paid into my Australian bank account and I transfer it to Thailand using BPay through ForEx. BPay transfers have higher limits when transferring larger amounts and attract less bank attention/fees.

My super a similar amount maybe a bit more and you must have been lucky. My super last 8 years has done nothing with CFS. Has grown then dropped....then recovered....then dropped again with covid and now Ukraine. Dropped about 20% at the start of Ukraine actually but has since bounced back. I reckon in 8 years...now...I am about back where I started 8 years ago. It would have been better in a fixed interest bank account. But like I said I am in a fairly if not the most conservative fund they have. Still doesn't seem to be any guarantee of fund slipping backwards though.

 

When you say minimum 4% di you mean annually I assume?

 

How did you set it up? Did you get any help or advice from Colonial or did you just do it off your own bat or use a financial adviser. I think last time I checked they didn't event want to give information on setting up a pension account. I mean ok they can't give you financial advice but surely they can give you a run down of their product and benefits. I have just found them to be as lazy, non helpful and evasive as dealing with a government department.

 

I still don't see the difference between a pension and just leaving your money in there. You have done well by the sound of it but can you elaborate on how the pension gave you a better return?

 

Maybe not in the current climate, all thing being normal $250k AUS dollars invested properly should give you a return of at least 10%, $25,000 PA and that should more than enough to live in Thailand leaving your capital intact. It doesn't look like the Super companies can manage to do it though...at least mine can't

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/11/2022 at 11:08 PM, Kenny202 said:

And the problem for me is I have been out of the country over 2 years (8 years actually) and don't own property so I am a "non resident for tax purposes"....which means any tax I need to pay is at the full rate...as if I were a foreigner. I have been assured though should I wait until 60yo there will be no tax.

You don't automatically become tax non-resident. It's a process you have to go through, which often ends up being financially detrimental. 

Having asked the ATO the question on non-residency vs over 60 tax just recently, they said that you will be taxed as a non-resident firstly (ie 32.5% on every dollar, no tax free threshold) and then get a tax offset of 10% on the tax liability.

If on a pension, that is quite the loss.

 

My thoughts on your bigger picture.

Cash out all your super and quickly put it into something that will at least hold some value.

Money in the bank (or super) is losing value every day, and will continue to do so.

Precious metals would be the leading solution, and it's a good buyers market now.

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