Increase to super contributions won't work

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The Australian Government intends to raise the compulsory superannuation contribution rate from 9% this year to 12% in 2020 as part of their measures to strengthen the age pension, announced in the 2009-10 Budget.

They believe the measures will generate an additional $10b and benefit around 8.4m employees, with a 30 year-old earning average full-time wages receiving an additional $108,000 in retirement savings.

The changes are expected to reduce future demands on the pension from an ageing population, but Stephen Kirchner from the Centre for Independent Studies said a mature compulsory superannuation system would only have a modest impact on future age pension eligibility.

“Instead of raising the compulsory contribution rate, it’s worth looking at other reforms that might better achieve the government’s objectives,” said Kirchner.

In his research report Kirchner recommends that the government could look at changing the superannuation tax arrangements.

“At the moment, superannuation is taxed at the contribution stage and the earning stage but not at the benefit stage, and this is really anomalous in terms of international practise.

“A much better way of taxing superannuation is to leave contributions and earnings exempt from tax and to tax benefits.”

He suggests coupling these tax reforms with mandatory annuitisation of retirement benefits, to reduce double dipping and future demands on the budget in a “more transparent, equitable and politically robust way than further increases in the compulsory contribution rate”.

Kirchner released his report Compulsory Super at 20: ‘Libertarian Paternalism’ without the Libertarianism in November. The first initial increase of 0.25% to the SG rate will be implemented on 1 July.

Have you talked to your clients about superannuation contribution? Share your thoughts about it below.

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  • Jeff M on 8/01/2013 2:41:24 PM

    Increasing more costs to the already skyrocketing labour costs associated with employing Australian workers will drive more to increase technology and outsource more jobs offshore. Governments and many others also forget the risks that employers undertake and the reward for risk is being whittled away.So its an employers responsibility amongst many others to ensure the workers have adequate retirement funds, well who ensures the employers also can make a comfortable retirement

  • Innocent Observer on 8/01/2013 3:38:53 PM

    Summary of proposal for "new" superannuation system:

    *SGC (for all employees) directed to a government-underwritten Defined Benefit type scheme; contributions taxed at 46.%
    *Earnings on contributions are calculated at a nominal CPI-plus rate; say, CPI+4% (note: no fees on these accounts, nor taxes on earnings)
    *At retirement age, the accumulated balance converts to a lifetime annuity-type product (govt. underwritten). Lump sums disallowed.
    *At death, a residual sum is calculated; individual's estate entitled to a portion, dependent on person's age at death: ie. Estate payment = value x (1- (120-age) )

    Meanwhile run a "superannuation" system side-by-side; contributions taxed at individual's marginal tax rate, earnings at say 30% (including in retirement).

    This would provide greater confidence and certainly in retirement savings (for the average taxpayer). Tax revenues would be significantly boosted. Contributions could, while held by the government, be used for infrastructure projects or to repay State/Federal debt. Future pension liabilities would be easier to predict. Probably the main ones to lose out would be fund managers and some advisers, however we're a pretty adaptive bunch so I'm sure most of us would be fine.

    Pretty simple stuff.

    Superannuation is a great thing. But as a strategy to fund our nation's long-term welfare liabilities, it's ineffective. Increasing SGC does nothing to fix the problem.



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