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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Retiring to Australia: the lowdown on tax, property and how to get a tax-free pension

However, Australian pensions are tax free and the only tax owed could be on the investment growth of a pension pot. Those who plan to spend a long time in Australia can consider transferring their British pensions to Australia. This can also help reduce currency risks and losing money to the exchange rate. But if done wrong, this can be costly and pensioners can be hit with 55pc tax bills, according to Mr Cole. 

The pension that the money is transferred into must be a specific type, called a “qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme”, known as Qrops. There is a limit on how much you can transfer and those moving their pension must be between age 55 and 75. 

Most people can transfer $110,000 AUD (£58,000) each tax year, and those under age 65 can use the next two years’ worth of allowance, bringing the total to $330,000 AUD (£175,000).

Similar to Britain, the Australian system has a “lifetime allowance” which limits how much you can have in your pension tax free. It is lower than in the UK, capped at $1.7m AUD (£930,000). Exceeding this can incur large tax bills. 

However, anyone planning the move must be aware that their British state pension would be frozen from the time they moved out to Australia. The state pension rises every year in the UK by the higher of wage growth, inflation or 2.5pc, under a policy called the “triple lock”. But this does not apply to those overseas in Australia. 

Mr Cole said: “Over time this can have a drastic impact on the value of the state pension as prices increase but the amount you receive will remain the same.”

Getting the right to move: sort out your visa

There are several visas that British pensioners can apply for to secure their right to move down under. Unfortunately the main “retirement visa” has been closed to new applicants.

The three other main routes include the “skilled stream”, the “family stream” and the “special eligibility” visas. 

Those with immediate family in Australia can migrate permanently, as the resident can act as their sponsor. This includes a parent visa, age dependent resident visa, carer’s visa or remaining relative visa. They must be able to show they have enough savings or retirement income to keep them afloat. This ranges from $5,000-10,000 AUD.

The “parent visa” allows those with children in Australia, who hold Australian status, to move there. However, this visa will only reopen to retirees in 2022 and it can be quite costly. The base application fee is $4,350 AUD (£2,310), with additional fees of $2,175 AUD (£1,156) and a second instalment of $2,065 AUD (£1,098). 

Anyone with a high net worth can apply for special investment visas, which require applicants to have at least $2.5m AUD, equivalent to £1.3m in personal assets and have managed or ownership in a business. 

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