Won’t raise a cheer

SMSF APRA 15 per cent earnings tax

Despite the SMSF sector showing fund members are highly engaged and actively accessing retirement income streams when appropriate the current government has no praise for it and is putting forward tax legislation that unfairly targets SMSFs in comparison to other funds.

There can be absolutely no doubt the Albanese government is at war with the SMSF sector. You only need to look at the policy measure it has proposed since being in power to recognise this situation. The concrete evidence confirming its approach to the superannuation sector has to be the non-arm’s length expenditure bill, that includes a carve out for Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)-regulated funds, and the 15 per cent tax on total super balance over $3 million, likely to affect SMSF members more than any others.

But time and time again we see proof why the SMSF sector should be celebrated as the success story of the retirement savings system brought in by the Keating government in the early 90s.

The recently released Class 2023 Annual Benchmark Report revealed SMSFs are leading the way when it comes to pension transition. The research showed 90 percent of SMSF members had moved their accumulation balances into pension phase while only 50 per cent of APRA-regulated fund members had taken the same course of action.

This reflects a few things of which critics of the sector should sit up and take notice. The first is the level of member engagement for SMSFs is pretty much where the government would like it to be across the superannuation spectrum.

The second is while the APRA-regulated fund sector continues to fumble around in providing adequate income solutions for its members entering retirement, an issue that attracted a rebuke from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission recently, SMSFs are going about the business of providing the desired options for senior Australians in an unencumbered manner.

And if anyone needed further evidence to convince them SMSFs are absolutely knocking it out of the park the sector is continually topping the satisfaction ratings conducted by research house Roy Morgan and did so again in September.

All this is taking place while concerns are being raised over the administration of the large funds for services such as processing rollovers or consolidating member balances. Recently Australian Super was put under the microscope by the mainstream media about these issues after member complaints – a scenario that must be Canberra’s worst nightmare particularly seeing more merger activity is taking place among the public offer super fund space.

As we know there are no problems with rollovers for SMSFs apart from having to bed down the SuperStream system pushed upon it as a result of changes to the operation of the retirement savings framework.

These achievements are not insignificant and, to be honest, are exactly what the government should be lauding as an absolute superannuation success story and holding out as the poster child for the system.

Sadly, not only can the ALP not even muster a congratulatory acknowledgement even through tightly gritted teeth let alone raising a cheer, it just continues to punch down on the sector.

This antagonistic attitude made me take note of something former Labor Party member and Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, and now SMSF Association board member, Bernie Ripoll said at the industry body’s 2023 Technical Summit in July.

He noted for the SMSF sector to really take flight it requires a “right wing and a left wing”. I think we’d all appreciate it if that sentiment was communicated to the present government and recognised by it.


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