Imputation refund policy under more fire

The federal opposition’s proposed policy of allowing imputation credit refunds to be paid only to those SMSFs with a member receiving an age pension payment has drawn more criticism, this time from the partner of an accounting firm.

Speaking at media briefing in Sydney this week, HLB Mann Judd Sydney wealth management partner Michael Hutton said: “I see that as a specific attack on self-managed superannuation and to me that’s abhorrent that a government policy would be directed specifically at a form of superannuation as opposed to applying to the superannuation industry.”

Hutton considered this type of measure unprecedented as previous changes to the retirement savings systems have had a wider application.

“When we’ve seen changes in the past like if they cut down on contribution limits – okay, that’s across the whole industry. If they cut back on how much you’re allowed to take out of superannuation in a tax-effective manner – okay, well that’s across the whole industry.”

Further, he said he failed to see any merit in the proposed policy, considering the effect of some of the most recent super reforms.

“The fact that they’ve already cut down to $1.6 million the pension limits, that’s already a significant change of scenery, particularly for large super funds,” he noted.

“So I think a lot of super funds will be paying tax now that they wouldn’t have paid before and so then having this [policy regarding] the refund of imputation credits, that only applies to self-managed super funds, is sort of a bridge too far I think.”

In addition, he said he thought the policy direction implied an imbalance in the tax burden was being borne by certain sectors of society, which he considered an inaccurate assumption.

“I think it leads to a discussion about where the tax burden lies and do older Australians pay enough tax and are younger Australians bearing the full brunt,” he said.

“There are a lot of young households paying no net tax, there are a lot of older households paying a lot of tax plus a lot of GST (goods and services tax) and they’re supporting their kids and helping out the economy [in those ways].

“So I don’t particularly like the discussion going that way.”

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