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New super choice form could remove consumer protections

Superannuation, super choice, super fund, retirement savings, retirement planning, retirement savings, wealth management, AIST, Australian Institute of Superannutaion Trustees, ATO, Australian Taxation Office, Single Touch Payroll, David Haynes

The proposed model for a new digital superannuation choice form for new employees contains less information than existing paper forms, posing a potential risk for super fund members.

As part of the introduction of the Single Touch Payroll (a new reporting system for businesses with more than 20 employees, which comes in to effect July 2018), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is looking to introduce a new digital form for employees to choose their super fund.

David Haynes, a senior policy manager with industry lobby group Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST), said the ATO’s proposed form “has a number of flaws” and shouldn’t be introduced until the industry is satisfied the form “will not disadvantage members”.

“If implemented under the proposed model, the form will remove important existing consumer protections and potentially display incomplete, out-of-date and misleading information to members,” he said.

Mr Haynes said the proposed form includes less information than the paper forms currently in use, and notably don’t require employers to list their default fund on the form.

“We know that many super fund members do not actively choose their super fund,” he said.

“The name of the default fund is pre-populated on the existing paper-based choice form, removing this function is a step backward for disclosure.”

Mr Haynes said the introduction of the new form should be decoupled from the implementation of the government’s Single Touch Payroll and instead should not be brought into effect before July 2019, after more consumer testing can be conducted.

A spokesperson for the ATO told Nest Egg that it has undergone “extensive design and consultation” with the super industry over several months, and recently issued a consultation paper asking for submissions from industry bodies.

“The paper provided an opportunity for all interested parties to provide feedback on the design principles, whether the design supports the policy intent, and to raise any unintended consequences,” the spokesperson said.

“The 28-day consultation period has just concluded with a number of submissions provided by industry.”

These submissions – including one from the AIST — are currently under review, the spokesperson said, and the ATO is considering how these might impact the current design.

“We expect this process to conclude before the end of this month,” they said.

New super choice form could remove consumer protections
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