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Hockey on super at Tax Reform Summit

Joe Hockey made strong statements on super reform this week: “Superannuation policy is incredibly complex … So adding to the complexity by laying on new additional changes is daft.”

This is an extract from the Federal Treasury website on Joe Hockey’s speech to the PwC Tax Reform Summit on 15 July 2015. The bold sections are my emphasis. Whereas it appeared a month ago that both Treasurer Hockey and Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg were looking to the Tax White Paper process for changes to superannuation, the politics have shifted and a ‘no change’ position is firmly stated. But perhaps the door of change is ajar, rather than closed. Look at the exact words: “Nor do we have plans to increase superannuation taxes into the future.” Plans. It’s not quite as strong as words used by the Prime Minister.

“So timely and measured reform ensures that our quality of life and our living standards continue to improve over time.

Australians recognise this and I have been encouraged by the contributions from the community to the tax discussion paper.

We have received more than 800 submissions (including two from PwC). All public submissions are available on our website www.bettertax.gov.au.

We have seen the emergence of a consensus.

There’s an understanding of the need for change. No submission has argued for the status quo – that the existing taxation system is fair or future ready.

Australians want a tax system that is simpler, more certain and competitive. They believe any reform must include state taxes, which are some of the most inefficient in the country.

Views are mixed when it comes to negative gearing and capital gains tax, but there is strong support for the retention of our system of dividend imputation.

As everyone in this room would know, there has also been a lot of talk about superannuation tax concessions. Some believe that the solution to the nation’s ills is to slug those who are taking responsibility for their retirement with higher taxes on superannuation.

This government absolutely rejects that view. As we promised prior to the last election, we will not engage adverse or unexpected changes to superannuation in our first term of government. Nor do we have plans to increase superannuation taxes into the future.

What we need is stability in the system.

Superannuation policy is incredibly complex. Its tax treatment even more complicated.

So adding to the complexity by laying on new additional changes is daft.

In the last six years of Labor there were 12 adverse and unexpected changes to superannuation. This followed Kevin Rudd’s 2007 pledge not to change superannuation one jot or one tittle.

Stability in tax policy is important, and even more important where individuals rely on the long term stability of the rules around retirement savings.

What self-funded retirees and part pensioners need now, more than ever, is stability not more tinkering with the system.

During a period of low global interest rates, which can have a significant impact on superannuation balances – plus the volatility in the world economy – why would a government want to increase taxes on super?

Superannuation is not the government’s money; it is the money that belongs to the Australian people – and the Australian people deserve better than to have governments continually mucking around with the rules or treating their savings as a piggy bank.”

About the author
Graham Hand is Editor of Cuffelinks and is now onto his third sofa in an investment property. He will soon write another article on some of the merits of residential real estate. This article is for general educational purposes about a specific market segment, and individuals should obtain their own professional advice.
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