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Almost $18 billion of super waiting to be claimed

The ATO today announced its latest figures on lost and unclaimed superannuation accounts.

As at 30 June 2017, there are over 6.3 million lost and ATO-held super accounts with a total value of almost $18 billion.

The figures show that super funds are holding $14.12 billion of lost super, with a further $3.75 billion of unclaimed super held by the ATO.

Assistant Commissioner Debbie Rawlings said the easiest way for people to keep track of their super, find lost or unclaimed super, or combine their accounts is by using ATO online services through myGov.

“Over the past four financial years we’ve reunited 1.68 million accounts worth $8.12 billion with the account owner, and there’s plenty more to be found,” Ms Rawlings said.

“By using myGov to track down your super, the money will be transferred to your preferred fund, generally within three working days.

“More people are finding their lost and unclaimed super through our online services every year, but these figures show there are many people who still may not realise how quickly and easily they can check their super accounts.

“Once you have linked your myGov account to ATO online services, you will be able to view all your super account details, including any that have been lost or forgotten, and you can choose to claim or transfer your super online. Alternatively you can call the ATO Super Helpline on 13 10 20 to request direct claim or transfer paper forms, or speak to your super fund.

People can lose contact with their super funds when they change jobs, move house, or haven’t updated their details with their super fund. They may also lose track of their super from accounts established earlier in their career. While the number of people with multiple accounts has been falling, there are still almost 2.3 million Australians with three or more super accounts.

“You might choose to keep multiple accounts, but if you consolidate your multiple super accounts into the one you prefer, you’ll avoid paying multiple sets of fees and charges. If you’re not sure whether to consolidate your accounts, check with your super fund who can advise you on issues such as insurance that may be attached to your accounts.” Ms Rawlings said.

When is super considered to be ‘lost’?

The term ‘lost superannuation accounts’ is used to refer to accounts held by super funds where they have lost contact with the fund member. By law, after a period, ‘lost super accounts’ and balances are transferred to the ATO and are then considered to be ‘unclaimed super’ held by the ATO.

Unclaimed super

For the first time, the ATO is publishing unclaimed super accounts, in addition to lost super accounts held by funds.

These accounts are held by the ATO where the fund is unable to contact the member or the member’s account has not received contributions for five years. Accounts of this nature are transferred to ATO to protect the funds from ongoing fees.

More information

To find out how to manage your super and view all your super accounts, including lost and unclaimed super accounts, visit ato.gov.au/checkyoursuper

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Spell out who gets our Super – to avoid problems

Binding Death nominations in Superannuation Funds are time limited, not a ‘Set and Forget’ decision.

Why it is important? Changes in Life circumstances, family death, remarriage etc may impact of the effectiveness of your Binding Death Nomination [BDN].

If you don’t have one, then who gets you Super is usually at the Trustees discretion. This is not much of a problem if you are married and want your Super to pass to your spouse.

But if you have remarried and have a blended family, the person specified in the BDN might not be the person you want your Super to pass to. Without a valid Binding Death Nomination, how can the Trustee really know where you wanted your Super to?

There are a number of issues to be aware of:

  • Timing – Binding Death Nominations generally have a 3 year time limit.
    • A number of cases have resulted from lapsed BDNs where the member didn’t realise that the nomination had lapsed.
  • Beneficiaries – Check that the beneficiaries named in the BDN are valid under super law
    • Super law says you must nominate a ‘dependent’ which includes
      • spouse,
      • child of any age,
      • someone financially dependent on you or in an interdependent relationship and/or
      • your legal personal representative – often executor of your will

YOU SHOULD UPDATE YOUR BDN AS YOUR FAMILY CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGE

Make sure that the beneficiary is valid. A young single persona may want to nominate their parents, but is unable to as parents would not be a dependent under super law.

In this case, and if no person can be found to fit the definition of dependent, then you are probably better to nominate you Legal Personal Representative and make any distribution arrangements via your will.

This is especially important if you move in with a new partner. The super benefit may not be much, but the death benefit may be substantial. If the new partner can prove being a spouse, any benefit may flow to the partner. This can be overcome by directing the Binding Death Nomination to the Legal Personal Representative for distribution via the will.

This plan would also effective if you have had a change in family arrangements, and you want your super to go to particular people.

  • Be consistent – In IOPPOLO’s case [Iopollo v Conti (2013) WASC 389. The member had her will prepared by her solicitor and her BDN was completed by the financial planner. In her will she gave everything to her husband and in the BDN gave her super to her kids. The trust deed of her SMSF required the BDN to be renewed every 3 years. She died just after the BDN had lapsed and the husband (not the father of the children) became the trustee of the Fund and gave himself the super.

 

  • Income stream – if you are receiving a super pension, consider seeking advose whether a reversionary pension is appropriate, where you income stream automatically continues to be paid to your beneficiary; rather than a BDN where there may be issues around the transfer balance cap under the new super rules.

If you have accumulation and pension interests in super, you will now need BDN that deal with both interests

Finding your lost super now that Superseeker decommissioned

The ATO has decommissioned the SuperSeeker online service for individuals.

The system was due to be decommissioned April 2017. However, due to recent system outages which began in December 2016, the ATO has decided not to revive this system.

Individuals can manage their super using ATO online services through myGov.

Who can have lost super?

Your super fund will report you as a lost member if either:

  • they have not been able to contact you
  • they have not received any contributions or rollover amounts for you in the last five years
  • your account was transferred from another fund as a lost member account and no new address has been found.

The ATO maintains a register of reported lost members but the super fund still holds your monies.

Who can have unclaimed super?

Super funds are required to report and pay unclaimed super money to us twice a year. The following are the unclaimed monies that we may hold on your behalf:

  • unclaimed super money for
    • a member 65 years old or older
    • a non-member spouse
    • a deceased member.
  • unclaimed super money of former temporary residents
  • certain accounts belonging to lost members
    • lost accounts with balances of less than $6,000 (small lost member accounts)
    • lost accounts which have been inactive for a period of five years and have insufficient records to ever identify the owner of the account (insoluble lost member accounts).

 

More information at ATO Website – Lost Super page

Commissioner’s statement on ATO systems

The Commissioner has said that claims made in media that Tax Time 2017 is under threat due to the ATO’s recent system outages were “completely without foundation”. He said that the ATO is “absolutely confident that taxpayers will be able to lodge their returns and receive refunds on time from 1 July”.

According to the Commissioner, initial indications are that there has been a failure by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to provide contracted services in a reliable way and ensure stability of the ATO systems. The cause of the failures will be informed by the review led by PwC that the ATO commissioned after the first outage in December 2016. The ATO technicians are working with HPE’s global team of experts to fully replace the affected hardware.

Source: ATO website, 8 February 2017.

Working Holiday makers

The Australian Governement has recently changed the way that Working Holiday makers are taxed.

From 1 January 2017 – as a working holiday maker – the first $37,000 of your income is taxed at 15%, with the balance taxed at ordinary rates.

You are a working holiday maker if you have a visa subclass:

  • 417 (Working Holiday), or
  • 462 (Work and Holiday).

As a working holiday maker your employer also has to pay super for you if you are eligible. When you leave Australia you can apply to have your super paid to you as a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP). The tax on any DASP made to working holiday makers on or after 1 July 2017 is 65%.

Most people who come to Australia for a working holiday or to visit will remain foreign residents for tax purposes. This includes people on visa subclass 417 (Working Holiday) or 462 (Work and Holiday) (backpackers).

EMPLOYERS ARE REQUIRED TO REGISTER

Only employers of working holiday makers are required to register with the ATO as employers of working holiday makers. Working holiday makers do not register.

If your employer is registered with the ATO they will withhold tax from your pay at 15% on the first $37,000 of income.

Example 1

Gorge is on a 417 Working Holiday visa and has started work for Paul’s pickles. As Paul is a registered employer of working holiday makers, 15% tax will be withheld from Gorge’s pay.

Gorge earned $500 in the first week and had $75 tax withheld.

If your employer is not registered with the ATO as an employer of working holiday makers they must withhold tax from your pay using foreign resident tax rates. Foreign resident tax rates start at 32.5%.

Example 2

Aleks is on a 417 Working Holiday visa and started working for Pamela’s berries. As Pamela is not registered as an employer of working holiday makers, Pamela will withhold tax at the foreign resident tax rates starting at 32.5%

Aleks earned $500 in the first week and had $162.50 tax withheld.

 

Impact on the tax free threshold

Most working holiday makers will be foreign resident taxpayers and not be eligible for the tax free threshold.

If you are a resident, you will be eligible for the tax free threshold but it will be impacted by any working holiday maker income you earn. Any working holiday maker income is dealt with first and effectively reduces your tax free threshold.

Departing Australia Superannuation Payments (DASP)

Employers are required to make super contributions on behalf of their eligible employees to fund retirement.

If you worked and earned super as a working holiday maker, your super will be taxed at 65% when it is paid to you. This DASP tax rate for working holiday makers is effective from 1 July 2017.

You can apply for the DASP after you left Australia and met all eligibility.

 

Federal Court rules that Uber is a taxi Service – ATO reaction

The Federal Court  in the case Uber BV v FCT 2017 – 2017 ATC 20-608 stated that the ride sharing services offered by an Uber driver constituted a supply of “taxi travel” under the GST Act.

This confirms that ATO’s previously held view, and the ATO will contrinue to administer the law according to its previously published advice until there is a different decision.

Clients are operating a ride-sourcing enterprise are reminded that they will have to:

  • keep records,
  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN),
  • register for GST regardless of how much they earn,
  • pay GST on the full fare received from passengers for each trip they provide,
  • lodge activity statements and
  • include income from ride-sourcing in their income tax returns.

Drivers are also entitled to claim income tax deductions and GST credits for GST paid on expenses apportioned to the ride-sourcing services they have supplied.

Taxpayers are reminded that the ATO using data matching, and where it matches people who provide ride-sourcing through data matching, it will continue to write to them to explain their tax obligations.

 

 

Spouse Super offset changes

The ATO is reminding taxpayers that the Spouse Superannuation tax offset is changing from 1 July 2017.

supersuperoffset-upto-jun17spouse-super-offset-after-jun17

Present rates for a rebate of up to $ 540 or 18% of the contribution ONLY allow where the spouses income, including reportable fringe benefits and reportable superannuation contributions in less than $13,800.

After 1 July 2017, the 13,800 spouse income limit will rise to $40,000. The maximum rebate will remain unchanged at $540.

However, the income limit increase will mean that more people can contribute to their spouse’s superannuation and benefit from a rebate. The rebate will also apply to all couples, whether married or defacto.

Òther limits to the application of the rebate include:

  • where the spouse has exceeded their non-concessional contributions cap for the relevant year
  • where the spouse has a super balance equal or greater than the general transfer cap at the start of the relevant year

Recent ATO crackdown on SMSF trustees and non-compliance

The ATO has cracked down on SMSF trustees who have breached the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (Cth) (SIS Act). The recent crackdown is the result of a number of SMSF trustees prematurely accessing their superannuation funds. Non-compliance with the SIS Act can have serious consequences for SMSF trustees. Outcomes include fines imposed by the Federal Court and, potentially, the SMSF being wound up.

In Deputy Commissioner of Taxation (Superannuation) v Ryan [2015] FCA 1037 the Federal Court fined 2 individual SMSF trustees $20,000 each for loans to SMSF members and other withdrawals from their SMSF in contravention of the SIS Act.

SMSF trustees should be mindful of the options available to the ATO to act against trustees who breach the SIS Act and the importance of ensuring their SMSF is a compliant fund.

Read full Story here

ATO to be investigated over fairness to SMEs

The Australian Taxation Office’s behaviour towards small businesses and independent contractors will come under the spotlight thanks to a review launched by the Inspector General of Taxation.
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The review is will investigate whether SMEs are being unfairly targeted by the tax office and whether the ATO is effectively tackling phoenix activity.

Inspector General of Taxation, Ali Noroozi, told Fairfax there are concerns about how the ATO deals with small businesses trying to meet their tax obligations.

“Employers play a vital role in the economy, including collecting taxes from their employees and paying their entitlements,” Noroozi said.

“It is important to provide them with as much support as possible with these obligations so that their main focus continues to be on their core commercial goals.”

First reported on Smart Company 29 October 2015

ATO pushing ahead with plans to introduce real-time payroll reporting

Originally reported on Smart Company 14 October 2015

The Australian Tax Office is pushing ahead with its plans to introduce mandatory real-time payroll reporting for businesses, with ATO second commissioner Geoff Leeper saying yesterday there are “profound economic benefits” from the proposed system.

Fortnightly payroll reporting is one aspect of the federal government’s proposed Single Touch Payroll Scheme, which had previously been slated for commencement in July 2016.

Under the scheme, electronic accounting software used by businesses would automatically report payroll information to the ATO when employees are paid, eliminating the need for employers to report employee-related Pay-As-You-Go Withholding (PAYG) in activity statements throughout the year or employee payment summaries at the end of the year.

The proposed Single Touch Payroll Scheme had also included a requirement for businesses to make mandatory real-time payments, however, former Small Business Minister Bruce Billson said in June the government would not proceed with that aspect of the scheme and would instead consult further with industry.

Leeper confirmed this at a Smithink accountants’ technology conference in Sydney on Tuesday.

“The [industry] consultation was very clear – for heaven’s sake be careful on cash flow – and we get that message,” Leeper said, according to Fairfax.

Leeper said the ATO is still working towards implementing real-time payroll reporting, which he said is “worth doing in its own right” as a way of matching data between government departments.

“Single-touch payroll automates the exchange of information from an employer through us to the Department of Human Services,” Leeper said. “No more unemployment form. No more income reporting.”

Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany this morning the small business community is “very comfortable” with the prospect of real-time payroll reporting but only “as long as the software is ready” for business to use.

Strong says there is still plenty of work to do to get to that point.

Alex Malley, chief executive of CPA Australia, told SmartCompany this morning the changes to the scheme announced by Billson in June, including potentially undertaking pilots of the scheme from July 2016, was “sensible” and struck “the right balance between reducing red tape for businesses and the meeting the government’s objective”.

“We were supportive of dropping mandatory real-time payment because of cash flow concerns and we’re supportive of moving ahead with real-time reporting of employment obligations including PAYG withholding tax obligations,” Malley says.

“There are clear benefits here because automatic reporting of many employment obligations will reduce the compliance burden currently faced by employers.”

Malley says CPA Australia will continue to monitor the roll-out of the scheme “with a close eye on the availability of appropriate software and how businesses adjust their pay cycles to manage the new processes”.

“Innovation in the tax administration, underpinned by meaningful consultation and engagement with stakeholders such as was demonstrated by former Minister Billson, is to be applauded,” Malley says.