The ATO has released its presentation to the 2019 Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) National Policy Roadshow outlining emerging superannuation focus areas for 2019–2020. Topics covered included:

  • the taxation of compensation received by super funds;
  • pension tax bonuses;
  • successor fund transfers; and
  • the treatment of inactive low-balance accounts.

The ATO also noted the following real-life examples of people interacting with their super in 2018–2019:

  • compassionate release of super – the ATO processed more 53,000 applications for the early release of super on compassionate grounds to members who required the money for critical purposes such as medical care and treatment, and it released $456 million as a result;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander assistance – ATO representatives visited Darwin, Kununurra and Broome with the First Nations Foundation and helped find $4.37 million in lost super for members of those communities;
  • downsizer contributions – 4,900 individuals aged 65 and over made super contributions from the proceeds of selling their home, to a total value of $1.1 billion;
  • first home super saver (FHSS) scheme – in the first year of the FHSS scheme's operation, 3,300 people obtained a release of money from their super to purchase their first home, to a total value of $39.4 million.

Lost super

The ATO noted that at 2 July 2019 it held 5.39 million super accounts worth $3.98 billion. Of this money, the ATO estimates it will be able to reunite $473 million with 485,000 fund members using the Protecting Your Super measures (which have been enacted under the recently passed Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Act 2019).

The ATO encourages fund members to find out about their lost and unclaimed super through ATO Online via myGov. In 2018–2019, fund members consolidated or transferred over 537,000 accounts worth $4.38 billion using myGov.

Pension cap indexation

The ATO flagged that the pension transfer balance cap (TBC) of $1.6 million could increase on 1 July 2020 or 1 July 2021, depending on when the consumer price index (CPI) number reaches 116.9 (its level was 114.8 as at June 2019). The Treasury Laws Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Superannuation) Act 2016 provides that the general TBC is indexed in increments of $100,000 when the indexation rate reaches a prescribed figure (which is calculated using a formula set out in the law).

While the ATO does not expect indexation to occur until at least 1 July 2021, it is important to consider what the TBC increase this may mean for funds and members. Once the indexation takes place, there will no longer be a single personal TBC that applies to all super members with a retirement phase income stream. Instead, there could be a personal TBC for each member, depending on their individual situation and arrangements. The ATO said it will advise as soon as possible if indexation will apply on 1 July 2020.