Tax on CPF Monies

We bought a house with the idea that we could pay it off once we got our CPF money out from Singapore in a few years. The problem we've just realised is that CPF cannot simply be brought in - we've been told that it will be considered income and taxed accordingly. The way around it is to bring it into our superannuation. A transfer from retirement fund to an australian superfund is allowed, subject to a maximum of AUD150k per year. It is permitted to lump the first 3 years' worth of transfer and transfer AUD450k upfront into your superannuation fund.

The problem with that is that the money is now stuck in the superannuation the same way it was stuck in CPF and cannot be used to pay off the mortgage. Now we have to think of some other way to pay off the mortgage. How have past Singaporean migrants brought in their CPF money? I would be very grateful if someone could share with us their past experience. Thanks.


Dear Anne,

Our income is taxable, be it local or foreign income. However in my opinion, foreign funds is not considered as income. If you sell a house in UK for example, it is considered capital gain not income. Capital gain is taxable but it should be a single tier taxation. If you are taxed once in that country, we should not be liable to pay tax on it again., unless you are a business entity which profit from the buying and selling of properties.

Moreover after you sell your property, most of the funds go back to your CPF account. A CPF account is a savings or pension account. It is not a pension fund, unless you buy stocks, bonds, gold or unit trust funds with it. If the ATO can tax savings, they can tax any amount of cash you bring in everyday and probably anything else, else as Hello Kitty whiskers. If I were you I will declare any income made from my CPF savings after I sell my house. i.e the 2.5% interest from Ordinary Account and 4% from Special Account. These are considered income and I believe it is fair to declare them as income and I will gladly pay the ATO tax on that. Other than that, balls.

The irony here is some of us will suggest if the CPF is taxable, we should leave it in Singapore. See, if the CPF is considered income and is taxable in the first place, it doesn't matter if you bring it into Australia or not. You should declare it and pay tax. But you wouldn't and will keep it in Singapore yet you can sleep well without being fearful of being audited? It doesn't make sense to me.

I seriously doubt so but even if CPF is considered income, being drawn from part of your salary of your day-job, the income was BEFORE you become a resident of Australia. How can you be taxed before you are legally liable to? The only grey area is the capital gain of selling a house, which is likely to take place after you become a PR. (remember though, you shouldn't be paying double-tier tax) If you wanna be siao on and declare that, the sum should be only on the capital gain, definitely not the entire CPF amount. I wouldn't pay tax on anything else other than my 2.5% and 4% annual gains AFTER I became an Australian PR.

Don't trust me. I failed my accounts in secondary school. But take it from someone with low IQ, low EQ but have been surviving well with a lot of common sense. A letter of inquiry to the ATO will clear a lot of doubts. Please inform us if you have any information.


  1. You make perfect sense. However, see below:-

    1. I saw plenty of IFs and MAYs, nothing concrete at all. I'm confident.
      I will declare my CPF as my savings. Not fund. Not super or whatsoever. Because after the CPF releases it, that is what it is.

  2. Hi Anne,

    I have seen this link as well as your replies on the other post.

    I'm with Nix on this, and I think there's little you have to worry. His logic is sound. But more importantly, CPF can be refunded to your normal savings account in SG. You can then transfer it gradually over to Australia.

    Unless there are some provisions to transfer CPF directly to Super, or you really want CPF to issue you a bank demand draft to do a direct to your Aussie account, there's little to worry about.

    "The CPF withdrawn will be paid to you in Singapore Dollars.

    You can choose to receive the monies through one of the following options:

    Interbank GIRO into your Singapore Bank Account
    Telegraphic Transfer to your overseas bank account (Note: You will need to bear all bank charges.)
    Cheque (Note: For overseas bank clearance of the cheque, you will need to bear all bank charges.)"

    If normal international bank transfers can be taxed by ATO, then I wonder how about those parents sending money to their kids in Oz to study, for the rest of my money to transfer to Oz... Maybe it's better if we quit work for at least six months before transferring the equivalent of half year's pay over. But cannot be so kua zhang right?


    1. Mr S is right.

      Just transfer using TT, Cheque, Bank Draft or agents such as

      Once the money is over, pop it into your OFFSET ACCOUNT. It's your savings. What is there to declare? You didn't earn it from work, investments or slave trading.

      If audited, just say

      这是老娘的血汗钱。 No Sex.

  3. Apologies Anne, I just saw your latest reply in the other thread.

    You then have to decide whether tax or mortgage interest is the real killer. Or a third option is to keep your citizenship in Singapore, and remain as PR in Australia. And pay the ever-increasing PR fees.

    These are similar to what many people face in Singapore. What we face here when income ceiling prevents us from buying the appropriate HDB. There are creative AND fully legal ways other than the grey areas I have suggested. Such as quitting your job to go on sabbathical to qualify for the flat (in your case to transfer in the CPF).

    I think as a migrant you know better than I do that we cannot have our cake and eat it.

    Just curious, how much does a tax accountant's services cost over there? Looks like I do need to use their services if my turn comes to withdraw CPF.

    The choice for me is still very clear due to my reservist liabilities. I do not want to be held ransom by MINDEF (and CPF). So I would very much rather pay ATO taxes, to buy my freedom. :)

    There's no right or wrong answer (legal, grey, and illegal, perhaps?). It's up to each individual to seek out the best deal for themselves


  4. Oh yes, Anne, let's assume all your worries are 100% valid (which is probable IMHO).

    It should only be the interest which is taxable.

    I think the principle is very clear. Your Aussie bank interest profits are taxable.. So yes, I OFFICIALLY (ahem ahem) take back my suggestion on trying to slowly transfer. But then Nix has said it already so I shan't flog the dead horse.

    I trust that you will be white as snow and do the right thing (no sarcasm intended at all). So please educate the potentially errant and ignorant people like me so that we can track on the straight and narrow!!!! I don't want to kena fine by Aussie taxman!



  5. Thanks Nix and S. Very reassuring to hear your points of view. Will be meeting the tax accountant in 3 weeks. Hopefully, my worries are unnecessary :-)

    1. Hi Anne

      Have you met your tax accountant yet. I am also in the same boat.

      I have withdrawn my CPF monies recently. I checked with ATO over the phone about the tax implications and was informed that tax would have to be paid on the interest earned only.

      So I wrote to CPF Board and obtained a statement of all interests earned for each year from the time I moved to Australia til the time I withdrew my CPF monies. I had to pay about $6 for each year that I wanted the information. Not expensive at all.

      However, I have met my tax accountant yet. Not hurry to meet since I would have to pay tax this year instead of a tax refund! Would be great if you could share your tax accountant's advise.

      Fellow Singapore in Australia


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  7. ANNE IN OZ4 September 2013 08:11 writes...
    ["The problem with that is that the money is now stuck in the superannuation the same way it was stuck in CPF and cannot be used to pay off the mortgage."]

    Hi Anne,

    Once the CPF is transferred into your Australian superannuation fund, there are many courses you can take or books to read to teach you how to use your superannuation to buy property. There are of course positives and negatives of doing this. One such positive is that "tax can be reduced to zero if the property is sold after the super switches to pension phase.". This article might shed some light on the issue for you:

    I hope this helps.

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    1. Hi A Blessed Singaporean,

      I re-read over Anne's comment again to make sure I understood what she was trying to do. She wants to use her CPF money to pay off her mortgage without paying income tax on it. She identified that superannuation is one such way but wrongly thought that the money was stuck in super. She can use a SMSF(Self Managed Super Fund) to purchase property for her to live in or as an investment.

      She can also use either a partial or full capital gains tax exemption to sell her own house to her own SMSF. Further details on the exemption here:

      Even then she has the option of doing some pretty tricky things like renting her place out for awhile and selling it while still being able to claim the exemption in full. More information about such trickery can be found here:

      With such matters as these, its very important to do as much research as you can and then seek professional advice to advise of any potential pitfalls or gotchas.

  9. CPF is not considered income. ATO recognises that it is part of foreign superannuation. However, as super earnings are taxable, the interest generated from the time you first become tax resident in Australia to the time the money is transferred to Australia is considered foreign sourced income for which you will need to pay tax on. If however you own a property and sold it with capital gains, then the capital gains are also considered foreign sourced income and taxed accordingly at the marginal taxation rates.

    What she is trying to do is empty the CPF account and bring it into Australia, and then use it to pay off the mortgage. There is no need to go into SMSF and all that complications. Bear in mind transfer of super is possible only in the first 3 years that you become tax resident, and with the current rules on citizenship there is not a chance that you can take advantage of super transfer since you need to renounce Singapore citizenship first.

    Do the right thing, declare the interest and capital gains as income, and then bring the money in. If you do the sums you will find that there is an equalisation point where you will come out ahead compared to keeping the money in CPF. What you have to prove to ATO in an event of an audit is the amount when you first became tax resident, and the amount when you initiate transfer.

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  12. Hi All,
    We recently sold our Singapore PPOR HDB flat and hoping to bring the proceeds to Australia. We are also thinking of revoking our SPR soon to get all the CPF Savings and hopefully able to bring in Australia. We migrated in Australia in Jan 2008, bought our Australian PPOR in July 2008 and now we are hoping to use the HDB sale proceeds & CPF savings to pay our home loan.
    I'm just wondering if you have a Tax Accountant to recommend, who will be able to give us advise on the best way to handle so that we do not have pay Property CGT from 2008 to 2013 here in Australia since Singapore HDB was our PPOR in Singapore. We’ve already asked 2 big Tax Investor Consultant Companies if they have clients from Singapore or client with similar situation however, both have no experience / handle similar situation as such. Both Tax companies said that they have to perform research and out-come might not still be the out-come we want :-) .If anyone able to recommend a tax accountant who already handled similar case will be highly appreciated. Any comment/ advise how to handle this will be highly appreciated.
    Thank you and kind regards

  13. This article is very interesting and helpful. Thank you for sharing!

    Tax Advisor

  14. Can someone confirm what is the tax to be paid when transferring CPF sum ? Is it on the whole lump sum ? Or is it on the amount since becoming tax resident ?

  15. just use your parent's posb account and TT... gift to children not taxable. pay for the TT fees n exchange rate..simple.