Understanding the Singaporean CPF for Australian Expats – The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is Singapore’s mandatory social security savings scheme that affects both citizens and some expatriates working in the country.
As a comprehensive savings plan, it plays a crucial role in helping Singaporeans and permanent residents secure their retirement, housing, and healthcare needs.
However, for Australian expats who have contributed to CPF during their stint in Singapore, the landscape becomes a bit complex, especially when they decide to repatriate.
Here’s a breakdown of how the CPF works and what you should consider doing with it upon moving back to Australia.
What is the CPF?
The CPF is a state-run, compulsory savings scheme in Singapore wherein both employers and employees contribute a stipulated percentage of the monthly salary.
The contributions go into three main accounts:
- Ordinary Account (OA): Primarily used for housing, insurance, and investment.
- Special Account (SA): Aimed at old age and retirement-related investments.
- Medisave Account (MA): Reserved for medical expenses and approved medical insurance schemes.
CPF and Australian Expats:
If you were an Australian expat on an employment pass or S-pass in Singapore, you’d generally be exempt from CPF contributions.
However, if you became a permanent resident (PR) of Singapore, you would start making CPF contributions from the second year of obtaining PR status.
Repatriating to Australia: What to Do with Your CPF Funds?
- Withdrawal upon renouncing PR status: If you’re an Australian expat who became a Singaporean PR and later decide to move back to Australia permanently, you can withdraw your CPF savings in full upon renouncing your PR status. You’ll have to prove that you’ve migrated out of Singapore and West Malaysia and have no intention of returning for employment or residence.
- Tax implications: Before repatriating the CPF money to Australia, it’s essential to be aware of any tax implications in Australia. The CPF withdrawal might not be taxable in Singapore for non-residents, but once transferred to Australia, it could be subject to tax regulations. It’s wise to consult a tax advisor to understand the Australian tax implications better.
- Consider leaving it in CPF: If you’re unsure about immediate withdrawal or are content with the interest rates provided by the CPF accounts, you might consider leaving the funds in your CPF. The accounts offer attractive interest rates, with the SA often offering better rates than most savings accounts in Australia.
- Transfer to an Australian Superannuation Fund: Before considering a transfer, you must check if your superannuation fund in Australia accepts overseas transfers and understand any tax obligations and fees involved in the transfer process.
The Singaporean CPF offers a structured savings mechanism that has been beneficial for many Australian expats during their employment in Singapore.
However, when returning to Australia, decisions around CPF funds require careful consideration. Whether to withdraw, leave it invested, or transfer the money is a personal choice, influenced by individual financial goals, tax implications, and the comparative benefits of Australian financial systems.
Regardless of the chosen path, it’s vital to engage with financial advisors in both countries to ensure that your repatriation is seamless and financially sound.