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Legal requirements for transferring large sums of money into Australia

What you should know when sending large sums into Australia.

Transferring your life savings ahead of immigrating, funding a business opportunity or inheriting money from family abroad? Whatever your reasons for sending money to Australia, there’s a lot to consider.

You can’t avoid the laws and legal paperwork that go along with transferring large amounts of money, so before you move your money to Australia, familiarise yourself with these laws and regulations.

Do I have to report large transfers into Australia?

No matter where you’re from, if you’re receiving more than $10,000 or a foreign currency equivalent, you’ll need to abide by Australian laws put in place to both protect your money and protect the interests of the government.

The monitoring is done by regulatory body AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre), which collects data on all cash transfers that exceed $10,000. This is to help prevent money laundering or terrorism.

Money transfer businesses, which often solely send money between countries, sometimes have reporting thresholds as low as $1,000.

Australian law requires banks and money transfer companies to report personal, identifiable information, which can include the following:

  • Your name and contact information.
  • The name and contact information of the person who sent you the money.
  • If it’s a bank transfer, the financial details of the recipient, including SWIFT code.
  • Your banking details, including your bank account number.
  • The amount you received.
  • If you’re sending money on behalf of a company, details of the business including your employment and its Australian Business Number (ABN).

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Tax implications

If someone is planning to send a large sum of money to you in Australia, you could be on the hook for taxes regulated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), depending on the reason why they are sending it to you.

The following large money transfers generally aren’t subjected to Australia’s gift tax:

  • One-time gift. Money transfers that are seen as one-off gifts or rewards aren’t taxed, but there are instances where they can be. This includes if the gift money is part of a business-like activity or if it’s related to how you earn income. If you decide to invest this gift money, the income it generates can be taxed.
  • Inheritance. If you’re a beneficiary, you won’t need to pay taxes on the inheritance money you receive from abroad. If you chose to invest this money, the interest may be taxable and should be reported on your tax.
  • Money you bring with you if you’re moving to Australia for the first time. If it’s more than AUD$10,000 or a foreign equivalent, you’ll need to declare it to customs.

As long as you’ve attended to any local tax responsibilities in your home country, these kinds of money transfers won’t have any tax requirements.

If the money you’re sending involves an investment opportunity – like investing in a property or business – you’re required to report the amount as foreign investment income to the Australian Taxation Office. You may be required to pay tax on this money, depending on your specific circumstances.

For example, if you have an investment property overseas and receive the rent via money transfer, you’ll need to pay tax on it. But if the money you receive is a birthday gift from someone living overseas, you typically won’t have to pay tax.

When receiving an international money transfer, you’ll need to take into account the source of the funds when considering tax implications. Transferring income you’ve earned while overseas is an example of a transfer that you should declare to the ATO.

If you’re concerned about a large inheritance of money or property, speak to a tax professional to make sure that you comply with Australia’s taxation regulations.

What are the penalties for not declaring a large remittance?

If your loved ones in Australia receive a large money transfer that’s not exempt from the gift tax and choose not to pay the tax, they risk fines and other penalties. More serious consequences include criminal convictions and even prison sentences.

Criminal convictions can affect your employment and ability to travel outside the country. Encourage your friends and family to report any large money transfers on their annual tax returns to the Australian Taxation Office. Or ask them to speak to a tax professional for guidance.

To avoid the severe penalties that come with a failure to report large sums of money being brought into the country, speak with a professional to guarantee that everything is above board and complies with the laws of all countries involved.

What should I expect when receiving money from overseas?

Sending money through a bank or money transfer specialist makes for easy, convenient bank deposits or cash pickups. In general, you may need to provide photo ID or a transaction number to receive your money transfer in person.

If you already have an account with the bank or money transfer company, you may not need to provide ID each time you receive money. However, online money transfers may have stricter rules when it comes to proof of ID, and they could ask for additional documentation or ask you to verify your identity by phone.

As with all international money transfers, be wary of potential fraud and only send money to people you know. Using a reputable provider can safeguard you from potential scams.

Questions you may have about large transfers

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