SuperSeeker: Finding lost and unclaimed superannuation

Update: The SuperSeeker online service is currently unavailable and is unlikely to be restored. The ATO has announced that SuperSeeker will be decommissioned earlier than expectedThe ATO is directing people to the ‘Check your super using myGov’ page.

SuperSeeker is a service run by the ATO for people to search and find their lost and unclaimed superannuation.

There are many reasons why someone might have lost or unclaimed super, including:

  • Default funds from old jobs
  • Change of name
  • Change of address
  • The super fund has not been able to contact you and has transferred your superannuation to the ATO

Finding lost super is usually recommended to reduce multiple administration fees applying and to ensure that unclaimed super is receiving an investment return.

SuperSeeker Full Search

A full search of SuperSeeker allows people to check their super accounts and find lost super held by super funds, or by the ATO where it has been marked as ‘unclaimed’. You may then request that the super be transferred to another superannuation fund.

SuperSeeker received an update in 2013, so people can now request a consolidation of super funds from within SuperSeeker instead of having to contact the super funds directly.

These features of SuperSeeker now requires the use of a myGov account – like many other online ATO services, including myTax and Etax.

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Only 62 applications for accountants limited AFSL says ASIC

ASIC accountant limited AFSLs, SMSF auditor, compliance actionASIC has received only 62 applications from accountants for limited AFSLs up to the end of May, 7,500 people have been registered as SMSF auditors and ASIC is concerned by advertising of SMSFs and property promotion.

These are some of the things to take from the speech, The Regulator’s Perspective on the Regulation of SMSFs, that the Commissioner of ASIC, Greg Tanzer, recently gave to the CPA Australia SMSF Conference 2014. Addressing the accounting body Tanzer said:

“We think that accountants and other gatekeepers have a critically important role to ensure that:

  • at an individual level, only those investors for whom an SMSF is suitable go into the SMSF sector and, in doing so, they are fully informed, and
  • at an aggregate level, the overall health of the SMSF sector is sound ”

Accountants Limited AFSL

Tanzer revealed a number of interesting statistics which show the lack of take-up of limited AFSLs by accountants, between 1 July 2013 and 27 May 2014:

  • ASIC has received only 62 applications for limited AFSLs
  • Only 27 limited AFSLs have been approved
  • One application is likely to be refused
  • 25 applications have been withdrawn or returned as they are “materially deficient in respect of the documentation and information which had been submitted in support of the application

Read More »Only 62 applications for accountants limited AFSL says ASIC

ATO SMSF trustee videos: investment strategy & loans

The ATO has published two new videos aimed at educating SMSF trustees. Given the ATOs goal of providing “new online tools and resources for SMSF trustees and auditors” contained in the recently published ATO Corporate Plan we can expect to see more of these videos, and other similar projects, to explain the super rules to trustees.

SMSF investment strategy

This video is aimed at explaining the requirements of a SIS-compliant SMSF investment strategy to SMSF trustees:

 “Your SMSF’s investment strategy is the framework that guides your investment decisions. It pays to have a good investment strategy that is regularly reviewed. Watch this video to learn what factors your SMSF’s investment strategy needs to take into account.”

 SMSF loans and early access

Read More »ATO SMSF trustee videos: investment strategy & loans

FSI interim report: what it means for SMSFs & Superannuation

Financial System Inquiry (FSI), Murray Inquiry - SMSFs, Superannuation, Retirement IncomeThe Financial System Inquiry (FSI), also called the Murray Inquiry, has released the interim report – pending further consultation before the final report. The interim report is broad, though contains a number of concerns and issues facing the superannuation system and how it supports providing retirement incomes.

Financial System Inquiry – SMSFs

The FSI is concerned about several aspects of SMSFs:

  • the high operating expenses of many SMSFs
  • if there should be limitations on establishing an SMSF
  • reintroducing the prohibition on borrowing

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Financial System Inquiry interim report released

Financial System Inquiry FSI - Superannaution and SMSFsThe Financial System Inquiry (FSI) has released its interim report; in December 2013 the Treasurer Joe Hockey gave the FSI the task of:

“…examining how the financial system could be positioned to best meet Australia’s evolving needs and support Australia’s economic growth.”

Overall the FSI finds that:

“to date, the Australian financial system has performed reasonably well in meeting the financial needs of Australians and facilitating productivity and economic growth.”

However the FSI also identifies a number of “opportunities and challenges” to Australia in the future, including:

  • Future financial crises
  • Long term pressure on the Commonwealths fiscal position
  • Productivity growth
  • Technological change
  • International integration

Read More »Financial System Inquiry interim report released

Three-year bring-forward rule for super contributions

 

Update: note the potential changes announced in the 2016 Budget.

The three-year bring-forward provision allows some super fund members to use three times the non-concessional contributions cap during a three-financial year period. For example, a member may have a $ 150,000 non-concessional contributions cap, and they could make the following contributions without triggering excess contributions tax:

  • Year 1: $ 200,000
  • Year 2: $ 200,000
  • Year 3: $   50,000

Or:

  • Year 1: $ 450,000
  • Year 2: $            0
  • Year 3: $            0

Though, of course, not the full amount of the three-year bring-forward needs to be used once triggered.

Also care must be taken when using the three-year bring-forward, as even small errors can lead to large amounts of contributions tax – in some cases 93% or even higher of the original contributions.

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ATOs superannuation priorities for 2014/15

Australian Taxation Office (ATO) - SMSF & Superannuation

The ATO has released its corporate plan for the coming years, which reveals some of what is in store for SMSFs and the superannuation system in 2014/15.

The ATO corporate plan, which covers the years 2014-2018, is part of the ATOs annual planning, coming after the Federal Budget process and built around the ATOs three strategies:

1. Build a culture that embodies our values and transforms the client experience
2. Simplify interactions, maximising automation and reducing costs
3. Connect with the community and other agencies in meaningful ways

The overall goal of the ATO when it comes to superannuation could be summed up as:

“We want to make it easier for people to be more engaged with planning for their retirement by providing online services and making interactions easier.”

With this in mind the ATO priorities for the superannuation system for 2014-15 are:

“Improving the productivity of the superannuation system through the implementation of consistent data and payment standards.”

and

“Proactive engagement with individuals throughout their life to prevent lost superannuation and other inadvertent consequences.”

These goals and priorities are reflected in the things the ATO has planned for SMSFs and the superannuation system in this financial year:

SMSFs

  • New online tools and resources for SMSF trustees and auditors
  • Improving the knowledge of SMSF trustees and professionals
  • Using auditor reports and other ATO data to review contraventions

Read More »ATOs superannuation priorities for 2014/15

Top marginal tax rate on early access to superannuation?

Top marginal tax rate on illegal early access to superannuation benefitsCurrently people who illegally access their superannuation balance early pay tax on the amount at their marginal tax rates, plus the medicare levy.

However it was a recommendation of the Cooper Review  that this be tightened to further discourage illegal early access of super, with such amounts to be taxed at the top marginal tax rate:

“Recommendation 8.25

The Government should amend existing tax laws so that:

  1. (a)  amounts illegally early released be taxed at the superannuation non‐complying tax rate; and
  2. (b)  an additional penalty, based on a sliding scale of penalties that takes into account the individual circumstances, should apply.”

The Cooper Review panel came to this conclusion because the amount of tax payable on illegally early-accessed superannuation funds depends on the income of the individual, not the act of breaching the preservation rules and cashing restrictions. Such a person would still have the benefit of the remaining funds accessed early, though there are other penalties available, and so the panel thought that:

“Tax rates and penalties need to be amended to ensure there is both a greater deterrence factor and to ensure that those committing illegal early release do not enjoy the same treatment as those who legally get early release of their superannuation”.

Read More »Top marginal tax rate on early access to superannuation?