Superannuation, Tax

Super info to be shared in separations

superannuation separation

The superannuation balances of separating couples will be transparent to each party under proposed changes put forward by the government.

Married and de facto couples going through a separation will have greater insight into the superannuation holdings of their former partners if new draft legislation released by the federal government proceeds through parliament.

The proposed legislation would amend the Taxation Administration Act 1953 and Family Law Act 1975 to allow a party to family law property proceedings in the Family Court of Australia, Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Western Australia to apply to the court to request information about the identity and value of their former partner’s superannuation assets from the ATO.

The release of the draft legislation was announced by Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy Minister Jane Hume and Attorney-General and Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash, who said the changes would also authorise the ATO to disclose super information to court registry staff for the purpose of use by the parties for relevant family law proceedings.

“Once commenced, the new information-sharing process will make it harder for parties to hide or under-disclose their superannuation assets in family law proceedings, and will reduce the time, cost and complexity for parties seeking accurate superannuation information,” they said.

The explanatory materials provided with the draft added the change “will support more separated couples to divide their property, including superannuation, on a just and equitable basis, and help alleviate the financial hardship and unequal retirement income outcomes that people, particularly women, can experience after separation”.

The materials noted only a former spouse/de facto partner of the other party involved in proceedings could apply for information related to ‘superannuation interests’, which were defined under the Income Tax Assessment Act as an interest in a superannuation fund, an interest in an approved deposit fund, a retirement savings account or an interest in a superannuation annuity.

The superannuation information provided under the legislation is likely to include the name and the last-reported account balance of each of their super interests, whether each interest is in the retirement or accumulation phase, and whether each interest is an account-based or defined benefit interest.

The draft legislation is available on the Treasury website, along with supporting materials, and is open for consultation until 28 June.

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