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Experts unpack what the budget means for SMSFs

By Keeli Cambourne
May 15 2024
2 minute read
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Superannuation was a no show in the federal budget last night but whether that means good news or bad news is anyone’s guess.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers made only one nod to any changes to the superannuation landscape last night, with the Paid Parental Leave concessions which had been previously announced.

However, that was already a given, said Aaron Dunn, CEO of Smarter SMSF, as part of the Greens’ bargaining over the $3 million super tax legislation.

“It really all goes back to when the current government was elected and said it did not intend to make any changes to superannuation in its first term of government,” Dunn said.

“It is holding true to that. The Division 296 tax does not come into force until after the next election, so what I think it means, as I have said previously, is that all roads will lead back to superannuation in the next election.”

Dunn said the PPL was a condition the Greens had previously insisted on in September 2023 if it was to support the government’s super tax legislation.

“Interestingly, it now seems the Greens will also be trying to needle the government for a little bit more in regard to the Div 296 tax,” he said.

“In its response to the Senate economic committee’s report last week, it suggested the total super balance cap be reduced from $3 million to $2 million and asked for the removal of Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangements because they believe it is a concern with property and housing issues.”

He added that the Greens had publicly stated the PPL would originally cost the government around $200 million a year and the budget papers predicted it would reach about $1.1 billion over five years.

“That lines up with what the Greens said and as the government predicted it would recoup around $2.3 billion from the super tax measures, it is possible the Greens will ask for something else,” he said.

Katie Timms, superannuation specialist and partner at RSM Australia, said she was surprised there were no superannuation initiatives besides PPL mentioned.

“I haven’t experienced a budget with so little in it for superannuation since the TBAR announcements in 2017,” she said.

“I was expecting there may have been something on legacy pensions, residency rules and NALI as well. In one way it is good news that it gives the sector a little more time to figure out what to do with Div 296 tax, but it is also disappointing that there were so many little things that wouldn’t have taken much to fix that the government is still seeming to push aside.”

Timms added that with no mention either of the Objective of Super, especially in a budget which was so heavily slanted towards infrastructure building, it could be on the cards in the next one.

“Given this budget was all about cost of living, I would have thought there would be something in the budget to link the objective of super and the infrastructure planning, so it could still be on the cards,” she said.

SMSF Association CEO Peter Burgess said it was disappointing the government did not recommit to the legacy pension amnesty which was originally announced in the 2021 budget.

“We were hoping to see more detail on how reserves would be treated under that type of amnesty, as it was an unanswered question in 2021,” he said.

“It is important that these pension members can restructure their pensions before the proposed new super tax as it is going to be easy the way it is applied to these pensions.”

Burgess said the association did have a technical manager in the budget lock-up who was told that the amnesty is still on the agenda.

“That is good news,” he said.

“It was also a relief there was no mention of indexation, but there were a few items on which we would have liked to have clarification and the legacy pensions sits within that. There are also some technical issues that we weren’t expecting to see but would also like clarification on.”

He concluded that in the SMSFA’s pre-budget submission it had asked for simplification of superannuation caps and thresholds, but again nothing was mentioned in this budget.

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