ATO, Superannuation

Visibility changes still need faster data

superannuation visibility

Changes to allow greater visibility of superannuation assets during a separation are positive, but faster collection and reporting of data is still required.

Two accounting bodies have given their support to proposed measures to allow separating couples to have greater visibility into the superannuation holdings of their former partners, but have noted faster reconciliation of information will be required.

CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand made the comments in a submission to Treasury regarding the exposure draft legislation – Treasury Laws Amendment (Measures for Consultation) Bill 2021: superannuation information for family law proceedings – which was released by the government on 1 June.

The proposed legislation would allow a party to family law property proceedings to apply to the court to request information about the identity and value of their former partner’s superannuation assets from the ATO.

Currently, this information is accessible via approved forms through the principal registrar of the Family Court and only applies to those superannuation funds where it is known that a super interest is held.

In the submission, the two accounting bodies noted the draft legislation would lead to a faster resolution of family law proceedings because once approved by the tax commissioner, the ATO will provide the parties to proceedings with all details of superannuation interests held by the parties.

The submission did note, however, that superannuation information held by the ATO could suffer from latency issues.

“This is caused by the variety of different reporting regimes in place for different types of superannuation funds, as well as real-time data exchanges between funds, their administrators and the ATO, which captures reporting of raw data, including errors and their corrections,” it said.

The two bodies did not recommend any action in regards to this issue, but pointed out that given the time-sensitive nature of family law proceedings, efforts to reduce the latency would be beneficial.

The submission also noted it still remained possible for parties to family law proceedings to try to prevent visibility of their superannuation fund assets through methods such as a string of rollovers between new fund interests.

“Although we believe that the measure proposed in the exposure draft will make such attempts more difficult, the forms presently in use, and which are approved by the principal registrar, will continue to serve a purpose for matters such as these, where new interests are created prior to visibility on ATO records,” it said.

“We support the continued availability of different methods of accessing superannuation information, if these different methods are required.”

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