Tax office to launch new super fund search facility
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is to launch a system that will help people find lost super funds and consolidate their accounts much more easily.
The office is improving its facilities to allow Australians to search a comprehensive database and retrace their lost superannuation funds, the average value of which is around $5,000.
Super funds become inactive when the line of communication between holders and fund providers is broken. It often occurs when fund holders forget to inform their provider of a change of address.
By the end of 2012, it was calculated that there was $18.1 billion in 3.5 lost or inactive super accounts.
A campaign was launched earlier this year to reunite idle superannuation accounts with their rightful owners before the ATO was allowed to lay claim to them in May (read more).
Fund providers were obliged to offer up funds in idle accounts worth up to $2,000 to the tax office following regulation changes that increased the value of accounts that could be reclaimed.
But the ATO has made major improvements to its online facility, including the SuperSeeker website, to allow Australians to search for their inactive funds more easily.
Users will be able to view their accounts, update details, and prevent existing super funds from falling into the category of ‘inactive’.
Emma Haines, the ATO’s assistant commissioner of superannuation, said that consumers would be able to consolidate super accounts by managing them in one place.
“New accounts that are opened will appear immediately on the online services,” she confirmed.
To those in the industry, the upgrades represent ‘a quantum leap’.
Jeff Bresnahan, the SuperRatings chairman, the ease with which users will be able to manage their accounts marks a breakthrough for a system that was previously too cumbersome.
“Five out of every six people who started consolidating their super fell away from the process because it became too damn hard,” he said.
The changes, which could revolutionise the superannuation industry, are due to launch in November.
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by Gemma Maddock