Finance Your Super The missing billions Australians don’t know are theirs

The missing billions Australians don’t know are theirs

Australia's biggest companies are withholding billions of dollars from the tax man.
Australians could have millions in savings they don't know they have. Photo: Getty
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Individual Australians could have millions of dollars they don’t know about tied up in the $17.5 billion of lost superannuation, startling new figures from the Australian Tax Office reveal.

The money is split across 6.2 million super accounts, which have been lost by their owners – something ATO assistant commissioner Graham Whyte said often happens when people change jobs or move house.

Some of these lost accounts have enormous sums of money in them, including a $2.2 million account held by someone in New South Wales, but Mr Whyte warned that these savings are “possibly being eroded by fees”.

There is at least one lost account in each state with $1 million or more still held inside it.

Mr Whyte said the ATO is “determined to help people find their super”, and said more than $3 billion was moved into active accounts in the 2017-2018 financial year alone.

“Our advice is to remain engaged with your super fund through all stages of your career, not just when you’re ready to retire.”

Mr Whyte encouraged Australians to visit the ATO website and check to see to see if a portion of the lost $17.5 billion belongs to them, and suggested that anyone with multiple accounts should consider if consolidating their accounts might be worthwhile.

“If you’re not sure whether to consolidate, check with your super fund who can advise you on issues such as insurance that may be attached to your accounts,” he said.

“Tax time is a great time for individuals to check up on their super, particularly if they plan on doing their own tax return using myTax.”

QLD postcode tops lost super list

The data also showed the Queensland town of Mackay has the largest amount of unclaimed super, with more than $60 million in lost savings across 12,140 accounts.

The sunshine state made another two appearances in the top five postcode list too, with Cairns and Toowoomba sliding in at 3rd and 5th place respectively.

Liverpool in New South Wales and Werribee in Victoria rounded out the top five in 2nd and 4th place.

The postcode analysis also found that Victorians reclaimed the most lost super during the previous financial year, with the total lost and unclaimed super pool for the state shrinking by over $174 million, though $3.5 billion is still waiting to be claimed, with $1.5 million of that residing in Toorak alone.

Melbourne CBD had the dubious honour of the postcode with the largest increase in lost super, with almost $2.8 million being added to the pool of missing savings, while Kenmore and Pullenvale in Queensland saw the highest reduction by postcode, with the area’s total lost super balance dropping almost $6 million.

Multiple accounts a billion dollar problem

Approximately 40 per cent of Australians hold more than one superannuation count, and it’s costing members a collective $2.6 billion in fees every year.

While super funds are required to report inactive accounts to the ATO to be matched with their owners, the current definition of ‘inactive’ means accounts which haven’t received a payment in 5 years, though that could be reduced to 13 months when government’s Protecting Your Super package is introduced.

This same package will see the ATO use data matching software to actively hunt down the owners of lost accounts and consolidate the misplaced money into an active account.

The New Daily is owned by Industry Super Holdings