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Labor flags cuts to super tax concessions in budget repair policy

Labor flags cuts to super tax concessions in budget repair policy

Chris Bowen
Miranda Brownlee
23 January 2019 — 2 minute read

Despite the introduction of the $1.6 million transfer balance cap and other super reforms, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has listed reductions to superannuation tax concessions as one of the measures Labor will adopt for budget repair.

In a media statement detailing its plans for housing affordability and the tax system, released Friday last week, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said that “action is needed” on superannuation tax subsidies.

Mr Bowen explained that Labor would be making “tough budget choices” to ensure that the budget is delivering on priorities for the future.


“We have announced a number of measures to fund important investments, and contribute to budget repair, including making multinational companies pay their fair share of tax, reducing superannuation tax concessions for millionaires, increasing the changes to tobacco excise, ceasing the Emissions Reduction Fund and not proceeding with the Liberals’ new baby bonus,” Mr Bowen said.

Mr Bowen stated that superannuation earnings concessions are expected to grow by 33 per cent over the next four years, more than twice the rate of growth in the age pension over the same period which is expected to grow by 14 per cent.

“The fact that the top 10 per cent of Australians receive nearly 40 per cent of Australia’s superannuation tax subsidies, whereas the age pension max rate starts tapering down for couples on incomes of $7,488, demonstrates why action is needed,” he said.

“That is why Labor has already acted to reduce the generosity of tax concessions for high-income superannuants — to moderate concessions for Australians with superannuation balances in excess of $1.5 million.”

Labor first announced in April 2014 that it planned to tax superannuation earnings above $75,000 a year at 15 per cent.

At the time, Labor said that the measure would affect approximately 60,000 superannuation account holders with superannuation balances in excess of $1.5 million.

It also clarified that under the proposal, capital gains would be grandfathered.

The policy document, Labor’s Fairer Super Plan explaining the measure, included an example of a 63-year-old retiree, Susie, who holds $1.8 million in super. The document was released in 2015, prior to the introduction of the $1.6 million transfer balance cap and total superannuation balance.

“Susie’s super is in its pension phase where earnings are tax-free. Last year, Susie’s super earned $90,000 at a rate of 5 per cent which she has taken as income. Susie earns too much to be entitled to a part pension,” the document explained.

“Under Labor’s proposed policy, Susie will pay 15 per cent tax on earnings over $75,000. Susie continues to earn $75,000 tax-free, but will face a concessional 15 per cent rate on the remaining $15,000. This equates to $2,250, and after-tax earnings of $87,750.”

This policy announcement was made before the Coalition announced a raft of superannuation measures in the 2016 budget including the $1.6 million transfer balance cap, which has limited the amount that can be transferred into pension phase.

Once the member has exhausted the capital in their cap, any remaining amount above this must be kept in accumulation phase with investment earnings taxed at 15 per cent.

Based on analysis conducted by SMSF software company Class, it estimated that the shift of assets out of pension phase due to the transfer balance cap has resulted in a $1.5 billion jump in taxes on SMSF earnings.

“Even if we assume a modest return of 5 per cent on assets for the 2018 financial year, we would see an uplift in the tax due on SMSF earnings to $3.2 billion — a whopping $1.5 billion jump from 2017,” the report stated.

Labor flags cuts to super tax concessions in budget repair policy
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