Why won’t the government let me withdraw $50,000 in cash?

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I sold a block of land and put money in a savings account in a bank that I had opened recently. The teller did not tell me that there were restrictions on how much I could withdraw in cash – he said a total amount of $10,000. I want to renovate my house and a project manager told me the cost would be $50,000. He pays all his suppliers in cash to avoid credit card charges. I would therefore have to pay him in cash, and he would use my money and not his. The bank has advised that to withdraw that amount, I would have to have a paper trail which was a ruling from the federal government. Can the government and the bank tell me where I can spend my money? This government ruling affects all Australians that have their money in a bank. It is my money, and so I should be able to withdraw any amount when I want and how I want. I am not a drug dealer or a money launderer.

As you say, it’s your money, and you can ask for it in cash. However, be aware that most banks only carry small stocks of cash these days, and you will need to make an appointment at a mutual time if a large amount of cash is required. My advice is to exercise extreme caution.

Australian banks are required to report cash transactions over $10,000 to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) and a large transaction will certainly receive attention.

If you need to withdraw a significant sum of cash – such as to pay builders – do so with extreme caution.Credit: Simon Letch

Furthermore, you’re dealing with a builder who by his own admission is dishonest. The Tax Office has very sophisticated tracking mechanisms these days and the last thing you would want to happen is your builder ending up in serious financial trouble halfway through the job.

My husband is in his mid-60s and retired. His superannuation balance is $800,000, and he’s drawing an account-based pension from it. I’m in my early 60s and have a part-time job earning $60,000 a year. My superannuation is negligible – our home mortgage is $350,000 and we have no other debts. We are wondering if we should take the money out of super and pay off the mortgage, which is contrary to what we have been told by our advisor, or whether we should leave the money invested in super and keep paying the mortgage payments.

The longer you can let your superannuation grow the larger it will be. Also, your super fund should be earning more than the interest rate on your mortgage. I think your best option is to continue making the mortgage payments from your salary secure in the knowledge that you can always withdraw money from super to make up any shortfall.

If possible, make the maximum contribution of $27,500 to super as this money will come from pre-tax dollars. Just be aware your employer contribution is part of that sum.

My wife is 61 years old and retired, and her super fund is still in accumulation mode. She also receives the full aged pension as I have a DVA disability pension. She will soon receive a $300,000 inheritance, and we are thinking of depositing it into her super account to avoid the pension assets test as our current assets are close to the limit. If she contributes this to her super fund, is she taxed on the $300,000 deposited amount or just the earnings from her annual balance?

It’ll be a non-concessional contribution and there is no entry or exit tax on it. However, the earnings of it will be taxed at 15 per cent in the fund as long as she stays in the accumulation phase. Keep in mind that if she moved to pension mode, it would be assessed by Centrelink.

I am confused about the Centrelink treatment of superannuation held by a person who is not of pensionable age. I am drawing an account-based pension – is income from the allocated pension counted as income for the purpose of pension assessment?

Provided a person is under pensionable age, and the superannuation is in accumulation mode, it will not count for pension eligibility. Once you reach pensionable age, you’ll be assessed, irrespective of whether it is in accumulation phase or pension phase.

If you are under pensionable age and you start an account-based pension, the value of the account-based pension will be counted under the assets test and a deemed income is counted under the income test based on that balance.

Noel Whittaker is the author of Retirement Made Simple and other books on personal finance. Email: [email protected]

  • Advice given in this article is general in nature and is not intended to influence readers’ decisions about investing or financial products. They should always seek their own professional advice that takes into account their own personal circumstances before making any financial decisions.

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