Unclaimed super set for Tax Office

MILLIONS of dollars worth of lost superannuation is set to be transferred to the taxman, under a move the government says will save members from paying unnecessary fees.

In a measure announced yesterday, the government will collect an extra $675 million by lowering the threshold at which lost superannuation accounts are automatically moved to the Australian Tax Office.

At present, super accounts of people who cannot be contacted are transferred to the Tax Office if they hold less than $200 and there have been no contributions for five years.

But from January, lost super accounts will be transferred to the ATO if the account's owner cannot be contacted, there is less than $2000 in the fund, and there have been no contributions for one year or more.

With the nation's lost super accounts holding about $17 billion, the change will deliver to the budget $675 million in savings over the next four years.

The unclaimed money will be held in trust by the government, and will deliver a boost to budget coffers unless it is reclaimed its owner.

Members can reclaim their lost funds from the Tax Office, which will pay interest equivalent to inflation on their unclaimed super.

A spokesman for the Superannuation Minister, Bill Shorten, said the changes would mean people did not pay unnecessary fees on lost super.

The opposition's spokesman on superannuation, Mathias Cormann, accused the government of using lost super to prop up the budget.

Deanne Stewart, the general manager of superannuation at BT Financial Group, said it was a positive outcome for members with small accounts.

"If someone left $200 in an ATM machine, they would drop everything and rush back to get it. Every day, Australians lose $3.8 million of superannuation. We want to help them find it,'' Ms Stewart said.

The chief executive of the Association of Financial Advisers, Richard Klipin, said the changes were likely to benefit some members, but others stood to unwittingly lose insurance purchased through super.

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