Government broadens scope of super for housing measure
Following extensive debate in the Senate, the First Home Super Saver Scheme has passed both houses, and has been amended to allow those suffering from financial hardship to withdraw funds.
The First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS) measure was passed by both houses this week, after first being introduced into Parliament in September this year.
SuperConcepts general manager technical services and education Peter Burgess said despite vigorous debate in the Senate about the merits of these new measures, the bill was eventually passed by the Senate with the support of the cross benchers.
The government agreed to amend the bill to require an independent review of the operation of these measures 18 months after the bill receives Royal Assent, said Mr Burgess.
It has also agreed to amend the bill to allow individuals who suffer financial hardship to withdraw funds under the First Home Super Saver Scheme even though they may have previously owned a home.
“New regulations will be inserted and will set clear parameters around who is eligible to use the financial hardship rule,” he explained.
“The introduction of the financial hardship rule is a significant departure from the original intent of the First Home Saver Scheme which was to assist individuals to purchase their first home.”
The financial hardship rule, he explained, is designed to assist individuals who have suffered a serious financial setback, for example a relationship breakdown, “to leave the rental market and effectively start over again”.
“It appears the financial hardship rule will have it own eligibility criteria and will operate in addition to the existing severe financial hardship condition of release. Given that you must request a FHSSS determination from the ATO, and the ATO will determine the maximum amount that can be released, presumably this means the ATO will be the ones assessing whether an individual has met the criteria to have funds released under the scheme.”
Also, given that more individuals from 1 July next year will now be eligible to access some of their retirement savings early under this scheme, Mr Burgess said “it’s entirely appropriate that this measure is independently reviewed in 18 months’ time”.
Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.
Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates. Miranda has also directed SMSF Adviser's print publication for several years.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.