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Budget revealed: what Aussies need to know

Budget, Aussies need to know, money, cash, coins

Treasurer Scott Morrison handed down the 2018-19 budget this evening, with a few surprises joining confirmed expectations.

The 2018-19 budget appears to have delivered on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s promise of a “Baby Boomer budget”.

In Mr Morrison’s speech alone, there are seven mentions of older Australians and one mention of young people.

This is your five-minute recap of the night’s top takeaways:

1.       Cash refunds on excess dividend imputation credits

In contrast to Labor’s divisive proposal, Mr Morrison said the government opposes “unfair tax grabs on retirees and pensioners” and the cash refund arrangement for excess dividend imputation credits will not be changed.

2.       Pension Loans Scheme opened to all older Australians

Mr Morrison said the scheme will be available to all older Australians, including full rate pensioners and self-funded retirees, “so they can boost their retirement income by up to $17,800 for a couple, without impacting on their eligibility for the pension or other benefits”.

This will be the case from 1 July 2019.

The scheme allows older Australians to unlock the equity within their homes without impacting their benefits.

For single pensioners, this could mean a boost of up to $11,000. For couples, the benefit could be as much as $17,000.

3.       Pension Work Bonus

From 1 July 2019, pensioners in paid work will be able to earn up to an extra $1,300 a year before seeing any impact on their pension.

Self-employed pensioners will for the first time have the ability to earn up to an extra $7,800 a year.

As it stands, pensioners can earn up to $250 a fortnight without impacting pension eligibility. This change will see that figure increased to $300.

4.       Superannuation Work Test exemption

As it stands, Australians between 65 and 74 need to work at least 40 hours over a 30-day period in the financial year in order to make contributions to superannuation.

However, as of 1 July 2019, these Australians – provided they have super balances of less than $300,000  will be able to make contributions for 12 months from the end of the financial year in which they last passed the work test.

5.       Retirement income covenant

Superanuation fund trustees will be required to develop strategies to assist members in achieving their retirement income objectives.

“This will focus the industry on providing a higher standard of living for retirees,” budget documents predict.

A position paper on the covenant will be released to the public "shortly".

6.       Restart wage subsidies

Access to this subsidy for Australians 50 and over will be expanded, with businesses given financial incentives of up to $10,000 to hire mature-age employees.

Mr Morrison hopes this measure will address age discrimination in the workforce. It’s costed at $1.1 million.

7.       Skills Checkpoint for older workers

According to budget documents, this checkpoint will help older workers with advice on the skills and training needed in building their careers or transitioning to new jobs and industries.

These checkpoints will be at ages 45 and 65 and will measure their skills, health and finances.

8.       Superannuation exit fees banned, charges capped

Exit fees charged upon changing funds will be banned as of 1 July 2019 and passive fees charged on accounts with balances of less than $6,000 will also be capped at 3 per cent.

9.       Super reunification

In a move estimated to see $6 billion returned to 3 million super fund members by 2020, the Australian Taxation Office will have increased abilities to “proactively” find and send lost superannuation to members and their accounts.

Accounts that haven’t been touched for at least 13 months will see monies below $6,000 transferred to the ATO, which will then use data-matching to find the saver’s active account. This program will begin from 1 July 2019.

10.   Opt-in to life insurance

Super funds will no longer be able to force Australians younger than 25 to pay for life insurance policies.

11.   Home care places

As predicted, the government is set to increase the number of home care places by 14,000. This increase will come at a cost of $1.6 billion and will take four years.

Mr Morrison said, “By 2021-22, over 74,000 high level home care places will be available, an increase of 86 per cent on 2017-18.

“We will also be providing $146 million to improve access to aged care services in rural, regional and remote Australia.”

12.   Funding to improve aged care services

The My Aged Care website will receive a $61.7 million boost and $14.8 million will also be used to “streamline the assessment process for aged care services”.

$22 million will be dedicated to fighting elder abuse, with plans to trial specialist elder abuse support services.

As it stands, aged care services spending sits at $66.7 billion this year. This will hit $77 billion by 2012-22.

13.   Personal income tax cuts

The government predicts more than 10 million Australians will receive a $530 benefit thanks to tax cuts targeted at low and middle income workers.

Australians with taxable incomes of up to $37,000 will see up to an extra $200 tax offset.

Those earning between $37,001 and $47,999 will see reductions of up to $530.

Those earning between $48,000 and $90,000 will also see an offset of $530.

The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance’s director of policy Satya Marar said, “While the budget provides modest relief, tax as a percentage of GDP is forecast to rise from 22.7 per cent to 23.9 per cent over forward estimates – nearly the highest rate in Australian history. This ensures that taxpayers continue to shoulder a greater burden than necessary.

“High taxes are a handbrake on our prosperity, a disincentive to work, entrepreneurship and human development, and a barrier to foreign investment and our international competitiveness.”

There’s plenty more in the budget for retirees, pre-retirees and investors to discuss. Nest Egg will be back tomorrow with industry and investor analysis on the 2018-19 budget.

Budget revealed: what Aussies need to know
Budget, Aussies need to know, money, cash, coins
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