New low for SMSF establishments in September 2018 quarter

The number of new SMSFs being started has reached a new low, with only 5,580 funds set up in the September 2018 quarter according to the latest ATO statistics.

The total number of SMSFs continues to grow – there were 596,059 as at the end of September 2018 – but growth is slowing. Each of the last four quarters has made a new low for SMSF establishments.

For the September 2018 quarter the ATO statistics have 5,580 SMSFs established, with 148 winding-up, resulting in 5,432 net establishments. The September 2018 quarter is the lowest for SMSF establishments since at least the June 2008 quarter. Read more...

Newspoll finds only 30% support stopping refunds of franking credits

Newspoll finds that only 30% support Labor’s policy of largely stopping refunds of franking credits.

Labor has announced a policy of stopping refunds of franking credits, with exemptions for Age Pensioners and some SMSFs.

The Australian reports that the Newspoll found 30% support for the policy, with 48% opposed and 22% uncommitted.

The compares to the Essential poll released last week, which found 39% support and 30% opposition, with 31% answering ‘don’t know’.

Support / opposition to stopping refundable franking credits - poll comparison

The higher opposition to Labor’s policy is even more pronounced amongst Coalition voters in the Newspoll than the Essential poll. 71% of Coalition voters are opposed in Newspoll, compared to only 44% in Essential. Newspoll finds 15% support from Coalition voters, while Essential found 32%. Read more...

Government consults on new retirement income disclosure fact sheet

The Government is consulting on a retirement income disclosure fact sheet – a simplified document with key figures and metrics to help consumers compare products.

“These fact sheets will cut through to the key features that matter when making retirement income decisions,” said Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert.

“Currently, when people approach retirement they are confronted with complex legal and financial information and long and complex documents. Typically, these documents do not provide clear information on the expected level, variability and duration or retirement income,” he said. Read more...

12 month superannuation work test exemption to apply from 1 July 2019

Older Australians will have a limited exemption from the superannuation ‘work test’, with the Government making regulations to implement the measure.

The ‘work test’ limits the ability of older people to make superannuation contributions to those that are working more than a certain amount.

The Coalition had announced the complete repeal of the work test in the 2016/17 Budget, but this was later dropped. In the 2018/19 Budget a much more limited exemption from the work test was announced, and has now been implemented. Read more...

Jail for employers not paying Super Guarantee Bill doesn’t go far enough

A Government Bill, which may become an Act in early 2019, has been welcomed but also criticised for not doing enough about unpaid superannuation.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Measures No.4) Bill 2018 could result in employers going to jail for not paying Super Guarantee they owe. The Bill passed the Senate last week, but as it was amended it needs to go back to the House of Representatives. Parliament has risen for 2018, with the first sittings scheduled for February 2019. Given the amendments were moved by the Government its passage seems likely, time allowing – there are few sitting days and the Budget has been brought forward. Read more...

Government fails to advance its superannuation legislation in 2018

The Government has failed to substantially advance its superannuation legislation in 2018, potentially creating issues with the start dates for measures.

With Parliament now adjourned for 2018, the Government’s superannuation agenda is largely where it started the year – stalled before the Senate.

The Government did pass some superannuation-related legislation – it changed the rules around terminal medical conditions, created the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, and moved ASIC to a fee-for-service model. But the core superannuation Bills are still stalled. Read more...

47% increase in financial complaints received since start of AFCA

Financial complaints to the newly operational Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) have soared compared to complaints to the bodies it replaces.

AFCA started accepting complaints on 1 November, taking over from the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT), Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO). Since then it has seen an increase of 47% in complaints received, compared to the three earlier bodies.

In its first month of operation AFCA has received over 13,000 phone enquiries and received 6,522 complaints from consumers and small business – averaging 310 complaints per business day. Read more...

Jail for employers not paying super guarantee may pass Parliament today

Legislation which could result in employers who don’t pay Superannuation Guarantee being sent to jail may pass Parliament today – the last sitting day for 2018.

Update: The House of Representatives has adjourned, seemingly without voting on the amendments – so the Bill has not yet passed.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 4) Bill 2018 has passed both Houses of Parliament, but as it was amended in the Senate it will need to return to the House of Representatives. The amendments were moved by the Government and so would likely be agreed to in the House, but that depends on there being time for a vote. Read more...

Over 90,000 retirees to benefit from changes introduced to Parliament

The Government says that over 90,000 older Australians will benefit from changes it recently introduced to Parliament.

The Government has introduced the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Supporting Retirement Incomes) Bill 2018 to the House of Representatives. The measures it contains were announced in the 2018/19 Budget as the ‘More Choices for a Longer Life — finances for a longer life’ package.

If the Bill passes, the measures are set to take effect on 1 July 2019.

Increase and expand Pension Work Bonus

The Bill would increase the Pension Work Bonus – an exemption from the pension income test for employment income – from $250 to $300 per fortnight, allowing pensioners to earn up to $7,800 a year without impacting their pension. The measure will also be expanded to self-employed retirees and independent contractors or consultants Read more...

Stopping refunds of franking credits has more support than opposition: poll

More people support stopping refunds of franking credits than oppose it, according to a new poll.

The latest Guardian Essential poll found 39% total support for stopping refunds of dividend franking credits. 30% in total oppose the measure, with 31% answering ‘don’t know’. Included in these figures are 15% who ‘strongly support’ stopping the refunds, and 14% who ‘strongly oppose’. Labor has a policy of stopping franking credit refunds for many taxpayers, though there are differences between Labor’s policy and the question asked. Read more...