Taxes on International Transfers in Australia? Bringing / Sending Funds

Compliance may appear to be something that businesses need to worry about more than individuals, but there are many rules that all of us must abide by when dealing with international money transfers. When it comes to bringing money into Australia, it’s important to understand if there are any tax implications, laws, or restrictions involved. This article serves as a comprehensive guide on international money transfer tax, along with other laws to be aware of.

Tax on International Money Transfers

When it comes to sending money overseas tax implications, it really depends on the causes behind the transfers. Simply making a casual small transfer to yourself from an international account to your Australian one will not be taxed. But, things may be different if this was income, for example.

There are two primary entities to be aware of when it comes to tax on transferring money to Australia: The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). 

The role of the Australian Tax Office is to administer and enforce tax laws inside Australian borders – whether it comes from overseas or not. It collects taxes such as income tax, goods and services tax, and corporation tax.

The AUSTRAC, one of Australia’s financial regulators, is very different, as it acts primarily as an intelligence body that fights money laundering and terrorism financing. AUSTRAC therefore monitors, collects, and analyses a lot of financial data, and this has a focus on money coming into Australia, as AML/Terrorism Financing are often intentional issues.

Reporting International Funds Transfers to AUSTRAC

As mentioned above, AUSTRAC helps fight terrorism financing and money laundering. Because of this, they keep a close eye on money coming into the country. Whilst organisations like banks and money transfer providers themselves must undergo relentless reporting to AUSTRAC, individuals rarely come into contact with them. But, for large or suspicious transfers, you may be asked to show some documentation about the causes and source of the money involved.

Tax Implications for Receiving Money from Overseas

When receiving money from overseas in Australia, ATO may want a slice. If you are the executor of a will in Australia, you become responsible for the tax affairs of the deceased. If you’re an Australian resident and you inherit money from overseas, it typically isn’t taxed because it’s not seen as income. This does not include foreign taxes, nor does it include Capital Gains Tax from Australian assets or income-producing inherited assets.

It is more common to pay taxes on income, which is a common reason for bringing money into Australia. However, the cross-border element of the payment doesn’t incur any new or different tax to what usually applies. Foreign salaries, foreign rental income, and foreign pensions are some of the ways you may end up paying tax upon receiving money across the border.

If you’re asking “are international students Australian residents for tax purposes”, then the answer is down to whether you have been in Australia for more than six months. If so, you are a tax resident. Some scholarships are taxable, but if the college is outside of Australia and you’re not living in Australia for more than six months, you’re likely not liable to Australian taxation.

Sending Money Overseas

When sending money out of Australia, there may be some taxes or regulations from the receiving country. Generally speaking, it is uncommon for outward transfers to be taxed by Australia. Money derived from income, capital gains, or business profits in Australia are subject to taxation and should be declared, even when they’re subsequently sent abroad.

Similarly, for transfers coming into Australia, you’re not going to pay tax on the transfer specifically. Whilst foreign income is often taxed, Australia has a double-tax agreement with many countries, meaning you won’t be taxed twice. 

Understanding Transfer Limits and Tax-Free Amounts

If you’re sending money to yourself (i.e. it isn’t income, business activities etc.), from an overseas account to an Australian one, then in most cases you will not be taxed regardless of the amount. 

How much can I transfer overseas from Australia?

There isn’t a hard regulatory or taxation limit to transfers. If you are sending over $10,000 across the border, it’s possible that you may be asked by AUSTRAC for information about where this payment is from, who it’s going to, ID documents, and so on. However, simply sending the money does not mean you need to declare anything upfront. 

Tax Implications for Gifts and Inheritance from Overseas

Australia does not have a gift tax, but a money gift from overseas to Australia needs to be carefully assessed. Cash gifts are usually tax-free, but this doesn’t mean there can’t be exceptions. Generally, these exceptions revolve around money being classified as income (i.e. the giver expects something in return for the gift). 

Likewise, there is no inheritance tax in Australia. There may be taxation in the country of the deceased, but this will depend on the country. So, bringing inheritance money into Australia can be done freely without tax. Again, there are exceptions, and these revolve around capital gains, dividends, and income that service from the inherited money.

Tax Considerations for Australians Working Overseas

If you’re an Australian resident, you must declare all worldwide income on your Australian tax return. This includes income from foreign employers, foreign investments, and overseas businesses. 

An Australian citizen living overseas, tax may still be required to the ATO. However, foreign tax credits in the double-tax agreements may mean that if this money is taxed abroad, it may not be taxed again in Australia. 

If you’re no longer a resident in Australia but simply sent your post-tax income over to friends and family, then you needn’t worry about ATO.

Things get a little more tricky the other way around, depending on the country in question. Transferring inheritance from Australia to the UK, for example, could be liable to taxes due to British inheritance tax laws (IHT). It would then come down to the domicile status of the deceased person, meaning even assets in Australia may be subject to UK IHT.

Tax Implications for PayPal Income and Large Transfers

Paying tax on PayPal income Australia is a very real possibility. PayPal does not circumnavigate income tax laws on foreign income in Australia. Just because PayPal is not a traditional bank, it doesn’t justify non-disclosure of earnings. It should be noted that there will likely be subsequent fees from PayPal (non-tax) when transferring income to Australia.

Regarding transferring money overseas limit Australia, there isn’t one per se. There may be a hard limit from the transfer provider itself, along with investigations from AUSTRAC. But, the Australian Dollar is on the open market and there are no regulatory limits on sending money into Australia. 

Conclusion

Navigating taxation can be challenging. Ultimately, you need to ask yourself about the source of the funds (or where they’re going), the reasons for the exchange, and the taxation status of the parties involved. 

It’s important to be aware of the role ATO and AUSTRAC plays, but when it comes to more complex situations like the domicile status of inherited money or double-taxed income, it is advised to consult a professional.