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Age pension treatment a budget positive

The 2015 federal budget announcements regarding the age pension and the fairness contained in the initiatives have been applauded by respected quarters of the SMSF sector.

The SMSF Owners’ Alliance welcomed the fact the age pension had been afforded the appropriate acknowledgement in the budget as one of the cornerstones of Australia’s retirement system, evidenced in the stricter eligibility and indexation rules.

“It is encouraging that in this budget the government has specifically acknowledged that the age pension is just one of the three pillars of [the retirement savings] system,” the lobby group said.

It also welcomed the fact the amendments to the age pension rules signified a more balanced approach in examining all aspects of superannuation rather than just the taxation elements.

“The government’s adjustment to the age pension test correctly recognises that the cost to the budget of the age pension far exceeds the cost of superannuation tax concessions and the age pension should be moved back to be the safety net it was always intended to be,” it said.

Macquarie executive director David Shirlow told selfmanagedsuper the retention of ancillary benefits for SMSF members in retirement, such as the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, was a good outcome.

“While there are some questions about whether they’ll be permanently entitled to those health cards and so on, it looks to be a really positive measure for those affected,” Shirlow said.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand head of tax policy Michael Croker said the government’s commitment not to introduce any new taxes to superannuation was a move that would help boost people’s confidence in the retirement income system, but would not prevent them from preparing for a different set of rules in the future.

“I think people will still have a conversation with their advisers on super. I think the release by the shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen, a couple of weeks ago revealing Labor has views on tightening up superannuation tax concessions, and the tightness of the polls, would mean people would be mindful of a Labor government being elected at the next election and having a conversation about what this might mean for their SMSF clients would be valuable,” Croker said.

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