How to hide money from Centrelink – Legally

Not a day goes by when I am not asked some form of question about how best to structure (hide) money to protect and improve a Centrelink benefit.

The question usually stems from the sale of a house, receipt of an inheritance or some other impetus.    

Whilst the term “hiding money” brings thoughts of illegal activity to mind, there are legitimate strategies available to you to preserve or enhance your eligibility for a Centrelink benefit.

The most effective strategy is adding money to superannuation.   Superannuation in accumulation phase is not assessed until you reach Age Pension age (this varies depending on your year of birth).  By adding money to the superannuation fund of a younger member of a couple, the older partner can benefit from an increased Age Pension payment. 

A similar strategy can be implemented for someone who retires before reaching Age Pension age and needs support from Centrelink.  There are restrictions around adding and accessing money from superannuation, therefore the strategy should be discussed with an appropriately qualified financial adviser before making any changes.

Other less generous yet effective strategies include:

  • Gifting – you are able to gift $10,000 pa and a maximum of $30,000 in any rolling 5-year period.  If you exceed these gifting limits in any way, you will be assessed as though you still have the money or asset. 
  • Prepaid funeral – prepaid funerals and funeral bonds up to the value of $13,250 are not assessed by Centrelink.  Buying one of these may assist in improving your benefit.
  • Spend it – Your home is not assessed by Centrelink therefore spending money on renovations and maintenance could help improve your Centrelink payment.  Spending money on things such as clothes or a holiday may also be helpful.  However, this is not something we recommend for clients because spending a dollar of your own money won’t result in you receiving a dollar from Centrelink.  Financially speaking, it is much better to preserve your wealth rather than whittle it away and rely on Centrelink.

I think it is also important to discuss the “elephant in the room”.  Hiding money under your bed is not a viable strategy.  Firstly, the cost of living is rising and if your money sits idle, your money is effectively losing value (purchasing power).  In addition, as people grow older and develop dementia, hidden money is often forgotten about.  Most importantly, if not declared, hiding money is fraudulent and can result in having to repay money received and criminal charges.  We’ve seen it many times before.

The strategies and advice mentioned above is of general nature only.  We strongly recommend you chat to someone who is appropriately qualified to discuss these matters and apply them to your personal circumstances.  If implemented incorrectly you could be in a worse off position.


  1. Jyoti Eagles on October 4, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    I am 68 and receive a pension. I own my home (value $300,000) and have no super. My mother just died and I will inherit about $150,000. It is in shares which she has had for some time. Will I have to pay capital gains if I sell them now ? I heard that if I hold on to them fir 12 months the tax is halved. Is this true? Will Centrelink make me sell them to live on? How long can I have the money or shares before it effects me as I want to move into another house?

    • The Muirfield Team on October 25, 2019 at 8:51 am

      Hi Jyoti

      There are quite a few things in play here. If your mother purchased the shares prior to 20 September 1985, you are deemed to have purchased them at the share price on date of death. If she purchased them after 20 September 1985, you will need to work out what she paid. When you eventually sell them, the difference between the purchase price and what you sell them for is a capital gain. This may be taxed. I suggest you consult an accountant to work out the tax implications.

      Under no circumstances can Centrelink or the the Government compel you to sell your shares, they simply include them in their assessment for determining your Age Pension.

      If you would like more information, please do not hesitate calling the office on 03 5224 2700

      All the best


  2. kerry walker on November 1, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    If I have shares and sell them to put into my superannuation will I still have to pay capital gains tax?

    • The Muirfield Team on November 19, 2019 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Kerry

      Yes, you may well need to pay capital gains tax if you sell your shares regardless of the fact you added the proceeds to superannuation.

      You should consult your Accountant regarding this matter.

      All the best


  3. Pete Roper on November 6, 2019 at 11:24 am

    Just a small point but, as I understand it, if I buy a $50,000 new car I still have to declare its value within my assets BUT it is now a “fire sale” value which could be as low as $40,000 immediately after I have left the show-room.
    Also can you confirm that if I pre-pay an overseas trip for say $30,000, then my assets immediately drop by that sum when the payment is made?

    • The Muirfield Team on November 19, 2019 at 8:47 pm

      Hi Peter

      You are correct in both instances. It’s important to ensure you place a reasonable value on your new car. Centrelink online valuation tools to ensure your estimation is reasonable.

      All the best

      Courtney Robinson

  4. Bill Evans on November 18, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    I’m single, 64 years old, own my own home, have approx. $550K in assets and I live on north coast of NSW.

    My family live in the ACT and after the recent fires, I am thinking of relocating to be closer to them. My home on the north coast is valued around $300k and a modest home in Canberra will cost me around $500k so I would have to use around $200-$250k (with stamp duty/moving costs etc) of my current assets to relocate.

    Under current Centrelink rules, will I be able to apply for a part-pension after reducing my assets to relocate? I note that Centrelink ‘gifting’ rules apply for 5 years prior to applying for pension.

    I would be grateful for your advice.



    • The Muirfield Team on November 19, 2019 at 8:51 pm

      Hi Bill

      As you’ve noted the home is not assessed when determining your eligibility for a benefit. If you use your personal savings to buy a more expensive home them you may become eligible for an Age Pension. I suggest you call our office on 03 5224 2700 to discuss your personal circumstances in more detail.

      All the best

      Courtney Robinson.

  5. James Green on November 21, 2019 at 1:12 am

    Cannot find anywhere at all after rephrasing about 15 times, information regarding:
    When my assets reduce by $1000 do I get an extra $3 a fortnight on my part aged pension?

    • The Muirfield Team on November 21, 2019 at 1:35 pm

      Hi James

      When Centrelink determine your rate of Age Pension benefit they use the income test and asset test. Both test are independent of each other and one of them could be the limiting factor for you. The rules you speak of to relate to the asset test. It may be that your rate of payment is limited by the income test. The are quite extensive rules surrounding your assessment for the Age Pension therefore I think it is best you call our office to discuss your personal circumstances rather than try and explain it via the website.

      Our number is 03 5224 2700

      All the best


  6. Carmen on December 12, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    Hello I have an apartment overseas which i have declared to Centrelink, I am now selling it and will transfer the money to australia in order to have a deposit for my house. It will be around $200,000. Im currently receiving payment from Centrelink for my 2 kids and have a concession card as I am not working due to mat leave and my partner earns below $60k per year.
    I am worried about transfering this money to my account and then Centrelink making me pay everything back. It is quite a bit of money but my intention is to put everything towards my house. How do I do this? thinking openning an account under my kids name and trasnferring there. Will I be ok with that? thanks

    • The Muirfield Team on December 17, 2019 at 8:47 am

      Hi Carmen

      By the sounds of it you have a complex situation on your hands. When you speak of Centrelink benefit for your children, I assume you are referring to the family tax benefit.

      If this is the case, repatriating money from overseas won’t necessarily impact your payment because it is not taxable income. With that being said, there are a few other complex issues to tackle.

      Please give the office a call on 03 5224 2700 to discuss things further.

      All the best

      Courtney Robinson

  7. jim wapling on December 30, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    can centelink access my bank accounts ……iif I receive a large sum of money can centrelink request details of where it came from and when and bank statements to prove it ?

    • The Muirfield Team on January 2, 2020 at 9:15 am

      Hi Jim

      Whilst Centrelink don’t have direct access to view your bank accounts, they do have data matching capabilities. It is your responsibility to update them in an honest and timely fashion. If you do not, over time they may audit you and ask you for bank statements to prove your financial history.

      We have seen numerous cases where people are forced to pay back significant sums of money.

      All the best

  8. Shane on January 20, 2020 at 10:55 am

    My mother is in a nursing home. I am a protected with our home after caring for both my perants
    And living with them for 10 years.
    My mother had assets bank account and car tot 86000.00
    But since June 2019 the facility has been taking a daily care fee .
    Of $69.00 per day. Being her P.O.A I have access to her account
    Her pension falls short of her fees .
    I needed to buy her an electric wheel chair out of her account.
    And numerous other comforts. Will the nursing home still bill me for this .
    Once her assets hits $49,500.

    • The Muirfield Team on January 20, 2020 at 5:00 pm

      Hi Shane

      For all residents, a basic daily care fee of $51.63 per day (current until 20 March 2020) is payable. Based on an individual’s financial means, further fees may be payable in the form of an Accommodation Payment or Contribution, a Means Tested Care Fee and Extra Services fees.

      Based on the information you have provided it appears your mother entered care under a partially supported arrangement. This may mean she has to pay a small daily Accommodation Contribution in addition to the basic daily fee.

      Based on what you have described, your mother should be in receipt of the maximum Centrelink Age Pension of $933.40 pf. If this does not cover your Aged Care fees, clients often use savings accumulated in the bank to meet the shortfall.

      I would encourage you to contact our office on 03 5224 2700 to discuss this in further detail should you wish.

      All the best

      Kate Officer

Leave a Comment