How Departing Australia Superannuation Payments Work

9 June 2018
Canstar’s guide to departing Australia superannuation payments (DASPs), how they work, and how you can go about applying for one.

If you are (or were) a temporary resident or a ‘working holiday maker’ (WHM) in Australia and accumulated superannuation during your stay, you may be able to withdraw your super as a lump sum payment when you depart the country if you meet certain requirements.

How do departing Australia superannuation payments (DASPs) work?

Temporary residents working in Australia under an appropriate visa generally accumulate super.  That means super remains locked up with the fund or the Australian Tax Office (ATO) if the visa expires or is cancelled and you leave Australia. The good news is the DASP system can provide a way to receive super as a lump sum after leaving the country.

An ‘appropriate visa’, according to the ATO, is any temporary resident visa not from retirement subclasses 405 and 410 and holders of these visas are usually entitled to super just like any eligible worker in Australia, subject to the same preservation rules.

Whether your super is being held by a fund or the ATO will depend on how long it’s been since you left Australia without claiming a DASP; if it’s been six months or more since you left Australia, your visa has ceased to be in effect and you have not claimed DASP, your super fund(s) is required to transfer your balance to the ATO as unclaimed super money (USM). According to the ATO, you can apply for a DASP regardless of who has your super, however you may have to use a different application method.

Am I eligible for a DASP?

You may be eligible for a DASP if you meet the following criteria outlined by the ATO:

  • you worked in Australia while on a temporary resident visa not from subclasses 405 or 410
  • during that period, you accumulated superannuation
  • your visa is no longer valid, due to either expiring or having been cancelled
  • you are no longer in Australia
  • you do not hold Australian or New Zealand citizenship

If all of the above apply, you may be able to claim a DASP.

How do I apply for a DASP?

In order to claim a DASP, you or your authorised representative will need to fill out the application form. Note the linked form is only for claiming funds held by a super fund or retirement savings account, not the ATO. If you want to claim super held by the ATO, you’ll need to use the DASP online application.

If you want to claim funds from more than one fund, you’ll need to fill out separate request forms for each fund you want to claim from. On that note, some funds have their own DASP application form, which you may prefer to use.

The ATO notes that before submitting an application for a DASP, you should check that the fund(s) you’re claiming from:

  • still holds your super and hasn’t sent it to the ATO
  • doesn’t have any rules or restrictions which would affect your ability to receive a DASP
  • may or may not require any additional supporting documentation from you in order to process your application

Working holiday makers in particular should provide visa information if they held:

  • a Working Holiday visa 417
  • a Work and Holiday visa 462
  • an associated bridging visa

The ATO advises that your application, once lodged with all necessary supporting documentation, should be processed within 28 days, but the process could take longer in certain cases. If you do not receive a response from your fund(s) after 28 days, it could be a good idea to contact them.

If your application is successful, the ATO indicates your DASP will generally be paid in one of the following ways:

  • electronic funds transfer to an Australian bank account
  • cheque
  • international money transfer (IMT) (only fund applications are eligible for this payment type)

For applications made on ATO-held super, only the first two payment options are available. Depending on the fund you’re claiming from, fees and charges may apply.

How are DASPs taxed?

According to the ATO, DASPs can be comprised of two components: a tax-free component, and a taxable component (which in turn may have taxed and untaxed portions). The tax rates for DASPs made from 1 July 2017 are provided on the ATO website and are outlined in the table below, including the rates applied for working-holiday makers (WHM).

Payment component DASP ordinary tax rate (for non-WHM) DASP WHM tax rate
Tax-free component nil nil
Taxable component – taxed element 35% 65%
Taxable component – untaxed element 45% 65%

Source: ATO

The ATO stipulates whoever pays your DASP is legally obligated to send you a DASP payment summary within 14 days of the DASP being made; this will outline the amount of tax withheld and the amount paid to you.

What to do if you think too much tax was withheld

The ATO website is a great reference for all the details about this process, but as an overview, the practical steps depend on who paid your DASP.

If your DASP was made by a fund, you can contact them and request a tax refund. You generally need to do this within the same financial year that the initial DASP payment was made, otherwise you’ll have to lodge an objection to the ATO in writing in order to be considered for a refund.

Similarly, if your DASP came from the ATO, you can lodge an objection to the ATO in writing requesting they give you a refund.

If you’re going to be working in Australia on a temporary resident basis in the near future, make sure you know which super fund suits your needs. You can compare super funds with Canstar.

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