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Government passes ‘fairer’ super changes

The Australian Government has recently passed what it is calling the ‘most significant superannuation reforms in a decade’.

The reforms include the introduction of a $1.6 million transfer balance cap, which places a limit on the amount an individual can transfer into the tax-free earnings retirement phase and the introduction of the Low Income Superannuation Tax Offset, which is expected to boost the retirement incomes of around 3.1 million low income earners.

Under the confirmed changes, which will come into effect on 1 July 2017, the cap on concessional (before-tax) contributions will be decreased from $30,000 (for those under the age of 50) or $35,000 (for those aged 50 years old and over) to the flat rate of $25,000 per year.

From 1 July 2018, individuals with less than $500,000 in their superannuation accounts will also be allowed to make ‘catch-up’ concessional contributions. This is designed to help those with broken work patterns – many of whom are women – better save for their retirement. Previously, this option did not exist for those who had left the workforce.

The tax rate of 15 per cent for those who earn up to $300,000 and 30 per cent for those who earn income above that amount has also been changed. The new income threshold at which the higher tax rate will start will be $250,000.

The overall changes to concessional contributions are designed to level the playing field and provide more Australians with the opportunity to make full use of their concessional contributions cap.

The new annual cap for non-concessional (after-tax) contributions will be reduced from $180,000 to $100,000, and a new lifetime cap of $1.6 million will be introduced. Individuals under the age of 65 will be able to bring-forward three years of contributions.

The tax offset for spouse contributions will be allowed where the spouse’s annual income is less than $40,000. Previously, this offset was only allowed where the recipient’s income was less than $10,800.

After 1 July 2017, the tax-free transfer limit for a fund in pension phase will change to $1.6 million. Earnings will also be tax-free for those with balances of up to $1.6 million and balances above the $1.6 million mark will be taxed at 15 per cent.

The removal of the ‘10 per cent rule’ will also help ensure a level playing field for access to superannuation tax concessions irrespective of a person’s employment situation. According to the Government, this will be of particular help to contractors who also draw income from salary and wages.

Posted on 29 November '16 by , under Super.

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What to consider when consolidating your super

The ATO reported that 45% of working Australians were not aware that they had multiple super accounts in 2016. Having multiple super accounts is particularly common for individuals who have had more than one job. If this is you, it is important to identify and manage your super accounts because having more than one can be costly as a result of account fees from multiple funds.To combat this, you may want to consolidate your super, which moves all your super into one account. Not only does this save on fees, but it also makes your super easier to manage and keep track of.

Before consolidating your super, it is important to do the following:

Research your funds' policy
Compare your active super accounts so you can make the right choice about which one you should close. Things to assess include:

  • Exit fees
  • Insurance policies
  • Investment options
  • Ongoing service fees
  • Performance of the funds

Check employer contributions
Changing funds may affect how much your employer contributes, as some employers contribute more to certain funds. Check your current accounts to see if changing funds will affect this. Once you have selected a super fund, regardless of whether you choose a new super fund or one of your existing ones, provide your employer with the details they need to pay super into your selected account.

Gather the relevant information
When consolidating your super, you will need to have the following details ready:

  • Your tax file number.
  • Proof of identity. This could include your driver's license, birth certificate or passport.
  • Your fund's superannuation product identification number (SPIN).
  • Your fund's unique superannuation identifier (USI).
  • Details of your previous fund.

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