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Foreign pension amnesty for social security recipients.



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Senator Jocelyn Newman

Minister for Family & Community Services

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women

 

18 September 2000

FOREIGN PENSION AMNESTY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY RECIPIENTS

Federal Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Jocelyn Newman, today announced an amnesty for social security recipients who have failed to declare their foreign pensions to Centrelink.

Under the amnesty, which begins tomorrow and finishes on January 19 next year, people will be able to declare their foreign pensions without fear of penalty, Senator Newman said.

"To take advantage of the Foreign Pension Amnesty, customers can contact Centrelink, by phone or in person, and declare their foreign pensions.

"Customers who do this during the Amnesty may have their payment rate adjusted, depending on how much they are receiving, but no overpayments will be recovered."

The Amnesty is a part of the extension of the requirement to claim a foreign pension measure, that also starts tomorrow. Under this measure people who are entitled to an overseas pension are required to claim it.

This measure is a win for pensioners who successfully claim a foreign pension - their overall income will increase, especially in view of the more generous income testing arrangements from 1 July 2000. It is also a win for Australian taxpayers.

Tomorrow is also the starting date for a new simplified system of Centrelink payments for customers who travel overseas.

Senator Newman said the Amnesty represented a valuable opportunity for customers to clarify their position without the worry of having to pay back overpayments.

The Foreign Pension Amnesty applies to all types of foreign pensions but will not cover any income derived from bank interest, shares, business or real estate.

Senator Newman said while the Amnesty related solely to social security, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) would also offer limited concessions to people who declared their foreign pensions during the Amnesty.

Customers would still be required to pay due tax and interest, but only for the financial years 1998/1999, 1999/2000 and beyond. The ATO will also waive tax shortfall penalties that ordinarily apply to income not previously declared.

"For the many customers who have shared their working lives between Australia and another country and for the many tens of thousands of customers who travel overseas each year, these measures are surely positive changes," Senator Newman said.

Media inquiries: Simon Bush (02) 6277 7560 or 0407 780 509

For further information or feedback on this site email us at minister.newman-office@facs.gov.au

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