MONEY CLINIC | Can I access my RA if I missed the financial emigration deadline?

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Tax emigration sees your status change from resident to non-resident for tax purposes.
Tax emigration sees your status change from resident to non-resident for tax purposes.

An expat with no intention to return to South Africa wants to access and withdraw his funds, but wants to know if this is possible. He writes:

Five years ago my wife and I emigrated to New Zealand and we have no intention of returning. The only thing I have left in South Africa is a retirement annuity, and I would now like to withdraw those funds. Is it still possible for me to access my RA if I missed the financial emigration deadline? 

Ryno Viljoen, Chief Executive Officer of FinGlobal responds

To clarify, South African expats will still be able to access and withdraw their retirement annuities - the only thing that has changed is the manner in which this must be done.

When it comes to moving money out of the country, South Africa’s outdated exchange control rules have now been replaced by a more stringent tax verification process as part of a capital flow management system. While formal emigration through the South African Reserve Bank is no longer possible, expats can now complete the process of tax emigration through SARS.

In order for expats to access the funds in their retirement savings (whether retirement annuity, pension preservation fund, provident preservation fund) expats will need to complete this process of tax emigration and maintain this position for at least three years. Tax emigration sees your status change from resident to non-resident for tax purposes, and given that you’ve already been out of the country for five, this shouldn’t be too difficult for you.

Once this process is complete, you will have already met the time requirements, so you should be able to cash in your retirement annuity and transfer the proceeds abroad, less tax and administrative fees as required by your RA provider. 

*Questions may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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