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Can I take advantage of franked or fully franked dividends?

I am an Australian citizen who has lived overseas for an extended period. Can I take advantage of franked or fully franked dividends from shares listed on the Australian stock exchange? I would think that not having filed a tax return in Australia for approximately 12 years would make this impossible but I'd like to hear your opinion on the matter.

Dividends are taxed in the country of which the owner is a resident, so you can't put them in an Australian tax return. It is up to the country of which you are a resident for tax purposes to tell you how they would treat Australian franked dividends but it would be extremely unusual to find a country prepared to refund the franking credits in cash.

I am 61, own my home, which is worth $1.5 million, struggle to find work, have no super but do have savings of $35,000. I have been advised to sell my home, buy a unit for $600,000 and put $900,000 into a super fund. I just don't trust the sharemarket with my solid capital asset. Am I eligible for the pension at 65? I am a divorced male with four kids, and there is no greater GFC than getting divorced. I am unable to see any recovery and I'm scared and frightened for my future.

You will certainly qualify for the pension if you leave things as they are, because the house is an exempt asset. However, if you sell the house and invest $900,000, you may not be eligible because the invested assets will be taken into account. You really need to sit down with a financial adviser and work out how much you will need when you retire, and what mix of assets will be the most appropriate to maximise your age pension and satisfy your risk profile.

I am 49 and my wife is 45. Assuming that we wish to ''retire'' when I turn 54 and wish to maintain a net annual income of $100,000 in today's dollar value for a period of 30 years, how much cash would we need to have in hand by the time I turn 54? For the purposes of calculation, let's assume that at that point of time any funds are simply placed in a bank and rolled over annually at a conservative interest rate over the 30-year period.

It is more realistic to work on a return of inflation plus a specified figure because the amount you can earn, and the amount you will need, depend on inflation. If inflation is 3 per cent, and your funds earn inflation plus 5 per cent, your requirements at age 54 will be about $11,000 a month and you will need capital of approximately $2.1 million to make that last for 30 years. Just keep in mind this is a very rough figure and you need to be meeting with your adviser at least once a year to make sure you are on track, and to adjust your strategy if necessary.


I have lived in Australia for five years and my British pension is taxed as earned income in Australia. I pay no British tax on the pension. I have three houses in Britain which I let out, and that income is taxed in Britain. My British accountant argues that under the terms of the joint British-Australian tax treaty I should not be liable for tax on this income in Australia. My Australian accountant disagrees and the income has been included in my Australian tax return. I do not object to paying tax, but paying twice is rather painful. Any comments?

Your income from all sources will be taxed in Australia, but Australia gives tax credits for any tax paid in Britain so you should not be paying twice. Make sure your two accountants communicate with each other.

Is this a good time to be borrowing to buy a home to live in?

There is an old saying, ''It is never a bad time to make a good investment''. Falling interest rates mean that mortgages are getting cheaper and the general gloom in the markets mean that most assets are selling cheaply. Just take the time to research the market so you will know a bargain when you come across it. Make sure you find out why the vendor has the property on the market - this will enable you to couch an offer that is tailored to the vendor's circumstances. For example, if they are in severe financial trouble you could ask for a hefty discount for a quick sale.

I am 65 and my wife is 61. I still work full-time, and she works part-time earning $375 a week. She has taken her super and it is now in a fixed-term deposit. I read a letter in one of your recent columns from a 61-year-old who had retired. You mentioned he could access his super without paying tax. How is that so? I have been told I have to pay tax on my super. Also, could you let me know how much age pension I would receive if I retired this year? I have $350,000 in super untaxed, about $300,000 taxed, and we have $250,000 in a term deposit in my wife's name for tax reasons. We earn about $27,000 interest a year.

There is no tax on withdrawals for people 60 and over if the fund is a funded fund - however, it appears

part of your super is in an underfunded fund and, as you have been told, there is tax on withdrawals from that. Whether you qualify for a pension will depend on an asset and an income test and I can't give you an exact answer without knowing your full financial position. I suggest you talk to the financial information people at Centrelink - they are very helpful.

You may be eligible for a small part pension.

Noel Whittaker is the author of Making Money Made Simple and many other books on personal finance. His advice is general in nature. Readers should seek their own professional advice before making decisions. Email: