Finance Your Super $18 billion in unclaimed superannuation and some could be yours

$18 billion in unclaimed superannuation and some could be yours

Lost super.
Some of the $18 billion in lost super could be yours. Photo: Getty
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There is nearly $18 billion sitting in the super system without a home according to new figures and some of it could be yours.

The Australian Tax Office has reported that the amount of money held in unclaimed superannuation accounts jumped 21.3 per cent to $17.9 billion in the year to June 2017.

Of that lost super, $3.85 billion is held by the ATO and $14.1 billion in super funds themselves. Lost funds are those in the names of people who are uncontactable and who have not made a contribution for five years, and they are scattered right across the country.

The top 10 regions for lost super


Having money in unclaimed super means you are probably losing out in one of two ways. If the ATO has your funds you are only paid an interest rate of 2 per cent a year which is about the inflation rate, so your funds aren’t growing at all.

Lost accounts with small balances end up with the ATO because it has the right to hoover up all balances below $6000.

Balances above that level stay with the fund where they are likely to earn up to 10 per cent. While that sounds better than 2 per cent, many of the lost accounts result from people who change jobs and keep multiple accounts open, paying fees for insurance and administration in all of them and unnecessarily reducing balances.

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) is calling for legislative change to ensure monies aren’t stuck with the ATO.

Glen McCrae, ASFA policy chief, told The New Daily “the nearly $4 billion with the ATO in unpaid super should be redirected to people’s active accounts. Our figures show that if you have more than $2000 it is better off in an active account.”

That’s because at that level the stronger returns in a super fund outweigh the fees charged. “One way to greatly improve the system is to have the ATO, which has the details of the active superannuation accounts for most individuals with unclaimed super, to return unclaimed funds currently captured by legislated threshold transfers,” Mr McCrae said.

To do that the government would need to change legislation, but Mr McCrae said the mechanics would be easy to implement for the ATO. The fact that the ATO has tax file numbers (TFN) and other information “makes it relatively easy for the Commissioner to match lost member account owners with their current active superannuation accounts,” he said.

You don’t have to wait for a change in the law to reclaim your super. Anyone with a TFN can log into the MyGov website, link to the ATO to track down and transfer super accounts.

Australians appear to be catching on to the need to avoid having multiple super funds.

Three years ago the ATO figures showed that only 55.13 per cent of fund members had only one account. By June this year this had risen to 60 per cent while the number of people with three accounts had slipped from 10.78 per cent to 9.2 per cent.

Males are more likely to have multiple accounts than females while people while middle aged people are the most likely to have multiple accounts.

The $17.9 billion in unclaimed super is currently held in 6.3 million accounts.

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