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Your ‘lost’ super could be costing you money

A recent report from the Federal Treasury said there were around six million “lost” superannuation accounts holding a total of about $18 billion as at mid 2014. This figure represents roughly one in five of every superannuation account.

A lot of working Australians may not even know that there could be super money out there that they’ve lost track of – people can change jobs a number of times over the years, or change address or even their name, and any super funds that were holding funds for them simply may not have the most current contact details.

Super is considered “lost” if the fund can’t reach the person it belongs to, but also if the account has been inactive, with no contributions or rollover amounts being deposited for a period of a year. Unclaimed super money can also come about where an account is split, such as in a divorce settlement.

A lot of the lost money is in smaller amounts, but the tax rules that apply to all other super entitlements will still apply. And with super fund fees also eating into what’s left, finding a cache of extra money, no matter how small, is probably worth the effort.

According to new figures released by the Tax Office, 45% of working Australians have more than one superannuation account, and many taxpayers are not even aware they have these extra, or “lost”, superannuation accounts. As mentioned, changing jobs or moving house can often result in people losing track of these funds. But remember, the Tax Office warns that having multiple funds could mean that many Australians are paying more — even up to thousands of dollars— in unnecessary fees each year. A recent study conducted by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) revealed that the median figure for fees and charges paid by Australians for a low-cost superannuation account is $532 a year. The Tax Office is encouraging anyone with more than one super fund to consider consolidating their super into one preferred account. It says an efficient tool to use is the improved myGov online portal to check their super accounts and consolidate multiple accounts.

Using myGov to consolidate your super

Create a myGov account at the website my.gov.au, then link the Tax Office to your account (if you already have a myGov account, just log in and click on the Tax Office link).
Go to the “Super” tab.

You can do any of the following:

  • see details of all your super accounts,including any you have forgotten about
  • see details of any super the Tax Office is holding on your behalf
  • combine multiple super accounts.