Australians Moving to the USA: How is your Australian superannuation affected when moving to the USA?

Matthew Marcarian   |   17 May 2022   |   3 min read

If you’re moving to the United States then you’ll need to understand how tax laws apply to your current and future superannuation account.  You should also obtain financial advice from a qualified financial planner before seeking access to your super.

Moving to the US on a Permanent Basis

If you are an Australian moving to the United States on a permanent basis then you are likely to be considered a non-resident for Australian tax purposes. This means that you will, by and large, be considered a tax resident of the US. 

In this situation Australia’s tax laws will continue to apply to your Australian superannuation in terms of how your superannuation earnings are taxed. However you should seek US tax advice in relation to how the IRS would seek to tax your Australian superannuation account or fund. CST Tax Advisors in the US can assist you with that. 

If you have an Australian self managed superannuation fund you should seek advice in Australia before you leave to avoid your SMSF being deemed non-complying, as generally the SMSF cannot be run by non-residents and should usually not accept contributions from foreign members. If your SMSF becomes non-complying because of your move, substantial additional tax may be levied by the ATO on your SMSF.

Accessing your Superannuation

Basically this means that your superannuation will continue to remain preserved in your Australian superannuation fund until you reach retirement age. If you continue to work for an Australian employer, they may continue to be required to contribute to your superannuation fund. 

When you are eligible to withdraw your Superannuation, if you are still living in the US, then you may find that these payments count as taxable income in the US. 

Contributing to your Superannuation

If you are eligible, and choose to continue to make contributions into your Australian superannuation fund to support your retirement, then you will likely find that these contributions do not count as tax deductions against your US assessable income. You should obtain specific tax advice from a US tax advisor or CPA.

While these payments may count as tax deductions in your Australian tax return to reduce any Australian sourced taxable income, superannuation contributions cannot be used to create a tax loss. This means that contributions that you choose to claim as a tax deduction may be wasted if you don’t have other Australian income to offset.

Since making superannuation contributions may not be a tax effective option, it is important to understand the full financial impact of your choice by talking to an appropriately experienced US tax agent, as well as an Australian tax agent. 

Talk to your tax agent about the tax consequences on your Superannuation plan before you move

Moving overseas can create a large number of potentially complex taxation issues to consider, particularly for those who have self managed superannuation funds. 

It is important to speak to an appropriately qualified and experienced tax agent about your specific situation. Planning ahead ensures you have the information necessary to make informed choices, and prevents you from being surprised with unexpected tax costs. 

It may also be advisable to speak to a financial planner so as to make the most appropriate plan in relation to investing for your future.

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