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Superannuation tips for each stage of your working life

A 2018 study revealed that almost 40% of Australians think they won’t have enough money to retire on – and that number is on the rise. Managing your superannuation fund can be confusing but it was found that 50% of us do not consult a financial planner. As we face different financial challenges at different points in our lives, how do you ensure you have enough to retire on?

20s to 30s:
It is not uncommon for many people in their 20s and 30s to have multiple superannuation fund accounts accumulated through years of youth part-time work or otherwise. Now is the time to chase up on lost super. With one superannuation account, you not only can save on fees but it may also give you better investment returns. When combining and comparing your active accounts, be mindful of any termination fees, insurance policies, investment options, and ongoing service fees.

40s to 50s:
You may find yourself earning more than you’ve ever earned before, but it is also a time where you may be juggling more living costs – from your mortgage to your growing family’s fees. Experts advise against decreasing your mortgage payments and encourage voluntary payments to your superannuation fund. If you have a partner, he or she may be able to help grow your super by making a ‘Spouse Contribution’ to your super account or consider if contribution splitting is viable for you. You may also be thinking about your retirement plan at this stage, and now is a good time to review your superannuation’s insurance and beneficiary policies.

60+:
This is the time many consider leaving the workforce but this decision doesn’t have to be as daunting or finite as it may seem. An alternative to this is the Transition to Retirement (TTR) income stream, where you can concurrently decrease your working hours while withdrawing money from your super once you reach your preservation age. There are a few regulations on how you can access your super and how you will be taxed so it is best to seek financial advice for your situation. In your 60s, you may be eligible to apply for a government age pension or withdraw a tax-free lump sum from your super fund. Your 60s might also be a period where you can consider your estate planning strategies.

Posted on 14 February '19, under super. No Comments.

Didn’t pay your employees’ super on time?

How to reduce the hassle of missing your employee’s super payment.

The Super Guarantee Charge (SGC):
The SGC may apply to employers who do not pay the minimum super guarantee (SG) to their employee’s designated superannuation fund by the required date. The non-tax-deductible charge includes the SG shortfall amounts with interest and a $20 administration fee for each employee. You will need to lodge your SGC statement within a couple of months of the respective quarter. While employers are able to apply for an extension to lodge and pay the SGC, the nominal interest will still accumulate until the extension is lodged. From this point, the general interest charge will apply until the SGC is paid off.

What you can do to reduce your SGC:
The nominal interest and SGC shortfall can be offset or carried forward by late contributions against the SGC in certain conditions. This excludes the administration fees, certain types of interest and other penalties. The late contribution is also not tax-deductible, nor is it able to be used as a prepayment for current or future contributions. However, you are able to carry it forward if the payment is for the same employee and is for a quarter within 12 months after the payment date. It is advised to consult a professional to work with your unique situation.

The bigger picture:
Struggling to pay your employees’ super is a sign of financial insecurity for your business. While an employee’s PAYG Withholding tax and super may not be due for a while, not having the funds for them at each payday is a debt that will only accrue. You may have to consider your business’ strategy and operations or consult a financial professional if you feel it is only the symptom of a bigger issue.

Posted on 7 February '19, under super. No Comments.

How to get out of a SMSF

Sometimes a self-managed super fund (SMSF) isn’t for you. While that is ok, getting out of an SMSF can be a tricky and complicated process.

Every individual involved in an SMSF is responsible for their part. No decision can be made on their behalf or outsourced to another member or industry professional. Once deciding to leave your SMSF, you must approach carefully to avoid penalties and damages or disruptions to the remaining member funds. To successfully remove yourself you will need to:

Posted on 31 January '19, under super. No Comments.

SuperStream to be extended to SMSF rollovers

First introduced in 2015, SuperStream is a government standard for processing superannuation payments electronically in a streamlined manner. Currently, SuperStream can only process rollovers between two APRA funds electronically but a change coming into effect on 30 November 2019 will now see this process extend to self-managed super funds (SMSF). This means rollovers between an APRA fund and an SMSF can be processed through SuperStream later this year, and the time taken could even be reduced to three days.

The streamlining of the rollover process between all funds aims to increase efficiency and reduce compliance costs. An example of this is the removal of the requirement to draw a cheque when rollovers are made from an SMSF to an APRA fund. Further, direct transfers between funds will give greater confidence when tracking the whereabouts of your money.

For a fund to receive a rollover, trustees will have to provide the ATO with the fund’s requested information – such as ABN, bank account details and internet protocol address – at least 10 business days before the fund receives the rollover.

Posted on 24 January '19, under super. No Comments.

Superannuation for Women

It’s no secret that the median super balance for Australian women at the time of retirement is significantly lower than that of their male counterparts. The Australian Commission & Investments Commission (ASIC) have reported that men retire with about twice the amount as women. The discrepancy is reportedly even higher between Mums and Dads. Between lower wages and a higher likelihood of having an interrupted working life for women, women also tend to live longer and thus require more super to cover more years. Unfortunately, between personal finances, business financial capabilities, and governmental policies, actions to close this gap can be limited.

Where viable, private companies can consider:

Posted on 18 January '19, under super. No Comments.

A guide to consolidating your super

Merging your super is vital to maximising your retirement savings.

Changing jobs over the years will put you at risk of losing some of your super if your previous employers have set up accounts you have forgotten about. Fees will erode the balances on these inactive accounts and result in you losing your hard earned super. You should also consolidate to maximise the interest accrued on your single super balance.

Merge your super with this checklist and keep your super savings on track for success.

Research your fund’s policy
Compare your active super accounts so you can make the right choice about which one you should close. You should assess:

Rollover process
Once you have made your decision, you can combine your super balance by:

Keep in mind that funds will take time to process your request and rollover.

Posted on 20 December '18, under super. No Comments.

Authority for super complaints introduced

The new Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) will make it easier for individuals and small businesses to make complaints about their superannuation financial firms.

The Coalition government has responded to criticisms of previous dispute resolution bodies by creating a new financial disputes framework. AFCA has been described as a “one-stop shop” that will improve outcomes for consumers and increase the efficiency of the dispute resolution process.

AFCA’s jurisdiction
AFCA has been given authority over a range of complaint areas including:

What you can make complaints about
Your super complaint to AFCA must adhere to its governing rules. AFCA has specific time limits for complaints but no monetary limits.

You can make complaints about:

Posted on 14 December '18, under super. No Comments.

Employer SuperStream checklist

Employers must make superannuation contributions on behalf of their employees. SuperStream is the ATO’s electronic and standardised solution that streamlines the super payment process.

Using SuperStream for employers means:

Obligations
You must make contributions to a super fund through a SuperStream solution unless you are eligible for the following exemptions:

Step-by-step guide
Once you have decided that SuperStream is right for you, the following steps will help you stay compliant:

Posted on 7 December '18, under super. No Comments.

ATO warns of illegal early super release

The ATO has issued a warning to the public regarding illegal early release of super schemes, which are subject to severe penalties.

There are strict rules around when you can access your super so your current decisions do not jeopardise your quality of life in retirement. The ATO has reminded the public you may only access your super early if you have experienced severe financial hardship or you have reached the preservation age and have stopped working.

How these schemes work
The promoters of these schemes:

Penalties:
Penalties apply to promoters and individuals who illegally access their super early. If you illegally obtain your super early, it is included in your assessable income even if you return the super to the fund later. If you are an SMSF trustee, you may be fined up to $420,000 and liable for jail terms of up to five years. Civil and criminal penalties apply to promoters.

Posted on 29 November '18, under super. No Comments.

Paying super to contractors

The ATO classifies contractors paid for their labour as employees for superannuation guarantee purposes. This is the case even if the contractor quotes an Australian Business Number (ABN).

Eligibility requirements
Super contributions must be made for these individuals if you pay them:

You do not pay super to a person when you make a contract with someone other than the person who will actually provide the labour, like a company, trust or partnership.

How much to pay
The minimum super amount you have to pay is 9.5 per cent of each worker’s ordinary time earnings. For contractors, employees calculate the minimum super amount on the labour component of the contract. The ATO will accept their market values of the labour if the values of the various parts of the contract are not detailed in the contract.

Posted on 26 November '18, under super. No Comments.

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