'Big issues remain' for seniors in Federal Budget

author-avatar By on May 12, 2021
'Big issues remain' for seniors in Federal Budget

There were a few items for seniors and pensioners in last night's Budget announcement, but experts are saying more needs to be on the table.

Most of the budget announcements affecting seniors' and pensioners' finances related to superannuation. 

In this article...

Downsizers

One of the key items affecting seniors is the move allowing over-60s to deposit up to $300,000 from the sale of their home into their superannuation, provided they downsize.

Previously the age threshold was 65. 

Pension Loan Scheme

As part of the changes from 1 July 2022, the Government has also introduced a 'No Negative Equity Guarantee' for the Pension Loan Scheme (PLS), allowing people access to a capped advance payment in the form of a lump sum.

The PLS will then allow participants to access lump sum advances of up to 50%. 

This equates to two lump sums over a 12 month period, meaning a single pensioner could receive up to $12,385 a year, while couples could receive $18,670. 

Through the PLS, people can receive additional fortnightly payments (and now lump sums) with the payments acrruing as debts secured against their property.

Budget papers say this is to bring the Scheme in-line with private sector reverse mortgages. 

Extra super contributions

The work test for non-concessional and salary sacrificed super contributions will also be repealed.

Right now, seniors aged 67 to 74 can only make or receive voluntary contributions if they are working at least 40 hours a month in the relevant financial year.

Changes to SMSFs

The Government is proposing to change residency requirements for self-managed super funds, and small APRA-regulated funds (SAFs).

It proposes to extend the central management and control test safe harbours from two to five years for SMSFs.

Active member tests will also be removed for both SMSFs and SAFs.

See Also: SMSFs and Moving Overseas

Other super tidbits

The $450 per month minimum income threshold for the Superannuation Guarantee has also been repealed, allowing seniors on limited hours to still get super. 

Australians can now also put more into their superannuation before being taxed at their marginal rate - it's now up $100,000 to $1.7 million.

The Government is also providing a two-year opportunity for individuals to transition from legacy retirement products, such as term allocated pensions (TAPs), life expectancy and lifetime pension and annuity products. 

Retirees will be able to exit these legacy products, and commute the capital to a regular superannuation fund in the accumulation phase.

"Any commuted reserve amounts will not be counted towards an individual’s concessional contribution cap but will be taxed as an assessable contribution of the fund," according to AMP.

What the experts are saying

Superannuation

The Actuaries Institute says "big issues remain", and that the Government has not "leveraged" the Retirement Income Review to make "impactful changes".

“The system also still lacks an overall objective for superannuation and its role in supporting retirement incomes,” Actuaries Institute President Jefferson Gibbs said.

"The Institute urges the Government to provide clarity on the purpose of superannuation, to enable more substantive reforms to be sensibly made to improve the system."

Downsizers

CoreLogic head of research Eliza Owen said the downsizing age reduction "is particularly important in the current climate".

"The measure may free up more established housing by incentivising home sales sooner than at age 65," she said.

"Housing demand remains high against a low supply of available properties; total listings volumes remain -23.4% below the five year average level."

Ms Owen also pointed to a few potential flaws in the changes.

"However, the measure will not come into effect until July 2022. This means motivated downsizers aged 60 to 64 may wait for the scheme to come into effect before selling, and any impact of increased listings as a result would only impact the housing market then," she said.

"It also worth noting that in the almost three years since the scheme was implemented, only around 22,000 individuals have accessed it, so this may not add materially to supply."


Photo by Soragrit Wongsa on Unsplash

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Harrison is Savings.com.au's Assistant Editor. Prior to joining Savings in January 2020, he worked for some of Australia's largest comparison sites and media organisations. With a keen interest in the economy, housing policy, and personal finance, Harrison is passionate about breaking down complex financial topics for the everyday consumer.

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