The Lander & Rogers Superannuation Alert is a brief overview of new developments in the superannuation industry.
- On 27 February 2015 the Federal Court of Australia handed down its decision in Friar v Brown  FCA 135. The case involved two appeals from decisions of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal in relation to the proportions of death benefit payable to a beneficiary of a deceased member of a superannuation fund. The relevant issue before the Federal Court was whether the Tribunal erred in concluding that the beneficiary did not have an "interdependency relationship" with the deceased. The court dismissed the appeal on the basis that it was reasonably open to the Tribunal to make that finding.
- On 3 March 2015 the Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment (2014 Measures No.7) Bill 2014 passed both Houses of Parliament. Among other things, the Bill implements the proposal announced in the 2014-2015 Budget to allow individuals to withdraw superannuation contributions in excess of the non-concessional contributions cap made from 1 July 2013. The Bill also seeks to ensure that members of a superannuation fund subject to a successor fund transfer are not disadvantaged as a result of the tax treatment of the benefit transferred. According to the Explanatory Statement the Bill:
- provides that "individuals can choose to have their excess non-concessional contributions and 85 per cent of an associated earnings amount paid from their superannuation in accordance with a release authority issued by the Commissioner of Taxation…individuals who make this choice will no longer face a disproportionate penalty on their excess non-concessional contributions"; and
- amends tax laws to ensure that, "where an individual's benefit in a superannuation plan are involuntarily transferred to a new superannuation plan, the individual will remain in the same taxation position, as if the transfer had no occurred", and removes the "unnecessary burden for the original plan provider to give roll-over benefit statements to former members, depositors or account holders affected by the transfer." The passage of the Bill was announced in a ministerial media release on 4 March 2015. According to the media release, the passage of the Bill removes "punitive tax rates on excess superannuation contributions" and makes "improvements to rules on involuntary superannuation rollovers".
- On 5 March 2015 the Treasury released its much anticipated 2015 Intergenerational Report. The report assesses the long-term sustainability of current government policies, and provides forecasts as to how Australia's demographic profile will affect the workplace and economy over the next 40 years. With respect to superannuation, the report states that the government "will consider several aspects of the superannuation system as part of the review of the tax system" and that the government is "considering improving the way in which the superannuation system transforms savings into retirement savings." The statement by the Treasurer on the release of the report can be found here.
- On 5 March 2015 the Corporations Amendment (Financial Advice) Bill 2014 was referred to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee, with a report due by 11 August 2015. The Explanatory Statement of the Bill states that the purpose of the Bill is to ensure that the word "advice" is only used in relation to the provision of advice which takes into account the personal circumstances of the consumer and that any advice which is provided for marketing purposes without consideration of an individual's personal circumstances should be labelled "general information."
- On 6 March 2015 the ATO updated its website with an Employer Checklist - a step by step guide to preparing for SuperStream. The checklist outlines the relevant time frames which apply to each relevant step of the SuperStream adoption process.
- On 6 March 2015 the Australian Tax Office withdraw ATO Interpretive Decision ATO ID 2002/141, which concerns the treatment of the benefits of a deceased member of a self-managed superannuation fund, and replaced it with ATO ID 2015/3 (dated 23 January 2015). ATO ID 2002/141 was withdrawn because a number of references in it are "no longer current". ATO ID 2015/3 provides that, where the benefits of a deceased member of a self-managed superannuation fund are to be paid as a death benefit to the beneficiary and the beneficiary wishes to contribute the death benefit directly to his or her member account in the same fund, the benefit cannot be transferred by way of journal entries in the books of the fund. The death benefit must actually be paid to the beneficiary by transfer of ownership of the deceased member's assets to the beneficiary.
- On 9 March 2015 a new online financial advisers register became operational. ASIC requires that initial appointments of financial advisers are completed by 30 March 2015.