Today is the last day of the Australian financial year and this becomes relevant to a host of those Australian pensioners who seek to serve the Lord in their remaining years, and many in overseas mission roles.
With the May budget under our belt and with a focus on pensioner entitlements. I found a very helpful discussion on tax in the NewsDaily.
1. Cut superannuation tax concessions – Federal Treasurer response: "The reason why I'm cautious is because it's their money. I'm always cautious about taking people's money off them".
2. Raise or broaden the GST - Federal Treasurer response "In order to change the GST you need the agreement of all the states ... and clearly that's just not happening".
3. Abolish negative gearing - Federal Treasurer response "We haven't done what our predecessors did and started ruling things out".
4. Include the family home in the Age Pension asset test - Federal Treasurer response - "it would be a brave politician who tackled this issue."
5. Abolish capital gains tax concessions - Federal Treasurer response - "We need innovation, we need people to take a risk and I don't want to do anything that would discourage risk-taking"
6. Abolish franking credits - Federal Treasurer response - "I'd rather have lower company taxes, and in that case there will be changes for franking credit availability".
Tax questions and answers from the May budget have direct correlations to those serving overseas.
An article in news.com titled "Offshore retirement makes dollar go a long way" stated that about 75,000 Australians are living abroad are sent Federal Government payments in 2011, including about 65,000 pensioners but that most of these people are migrants now living in their countries of origin.
Australians living overseas, the article stated, are receiving pensions and other Federal Government payments totalling more than $600 million a year. The numbers have risen seven fold over the past 30 years and such people have this entitlement as long as they have lived in Australia for a minimum of 10 years.
Includes mission people
The national good news of such international financial arrangements is that Australia is a net beneficiary with more cash from overseas countries paid to pensioners living here than Australia pay to pensioners living in foreign countries and the high Australian dollar makes offshore retirement even more attractive.
The article noted that in 2000, $1.4 billion in pension payments flowed into Australia, more than four times the $310 million sent offshore. By 2010 this had fallen to $1.2 billion.
This phenomenon has been of great benefit to the many Australians who spend part of each year of their retirement overseas serving as volunteers in Missions across the globe.
Pensioners serving the Lord
While many of these retires, are financed by their rightful pensions, and serving in third world countries, a great many are also serving the Lord in first world countries.
While actual figures are uncertain as it was difficult to get exact statistics from a range of Australian based missions, but it seems that at any one time there are two thousand eight hundred and fifty Australian pensioners serving overseas in third world countries.
We know numerous such pensioners serving the Lord in this way, from Kenya in Africa to France in Europe let alone the Ukraine and Greece to name just four.
As a Baptist minister (ret) I am aware of the large numbers of retired Ministers from across the Denominations who either regularly spend time in Missions each year, or visit family and friends in third world countries who are on mission, and not only provide a face from home, but give their time and energies.
Around the world
One of the most favourite destinations for Australian pensioners wishing to serve the Lord in this way is Israel. Not only do they engage in various kinds of tours to Biblical sites but they engage in a wide range of mission activities from assisting in food distribution to academic endeavours such as archaeology and translation work.
There is another group of Australian pensioners serving overseas as volunteers in a wide range of Christian service to first world countries. The United Kingdom, the USA, Canada and France are by far and away the largest receivers of such volunteers and in part it is due to family connections or church links developed over a life time of Christian service.
France has a great attraction to many Australian pensioner volunteers who see France on the front line in the bastion against paganism and Islamisation of Europe.
For whatever reason there is a bee-line for France and if anything, not only are the Australian soldiers of WWI heralded as the military saviours of France in 1918, but in a very different kind of battle, these Australian volunteer pensioners are engaged in spiritual warfare, toward a plentiful harvest in the cause of Christ.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html