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COVID-19: Early Access to Super

Overview

Eligible members adversely affected by the financial impact of COVID-19 may apply to access up to a maximum of $10,000 for FY2020 and a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020. 

Where your client has received a successful determination from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) authorising the release of money from their SMSF, the following documents are now available to document the early release of super benefits for members affected by the COVID-19:

  • Request Letter - From the member to the fund requesting the benefits to be paid as a lump sum;
  • Trustee Minutes/Resolution - Approving the lump sum payment using the condition of release (Compassionate Ground - Coronavirus); and
  • Confirmation Letter – From the trustee of the fund to the member confirming the benefit payment.

Compared to NowInfinity's standard lump sum report pack, these documents are specifically worded with reference to the ATO's determination as well as removing reference to PAYG withholding obligations as the amount is not subject to PAYG withholding and does not need to be reported on a PAYG payment summary. 

Downloadable Template

You can download the template COVID-19 Early Access to Super Template.docx. "by downloading this template you agree and understand the Disclaimer below".

Disclaimer 

  • Any information expressed in the documents does not purport to be any financial, tax or legal advice as we have not taken into account any of your or your client’s financial or tax objectives that are specific to you or your client’s circumstances.
  • While effort has been taken to make sure the information is as accurate and relevant as possible, it is at best construed as general information only. These documents may not be suitable for other lump sum payments using different conditions of release. 
  • You should not rely on the information provided as advice, instead seek your own independent advice from appropriately qualified practitioners or conduct your own research.
  • As some of the merge fields are currently not available on NowInfinity, only refer to the above template as a reference and manually update the highlighted merge fields where necessary.  

 

FAQs

Questions Answers
When did the government pass the law on this measure and when will the ATO accept the application on the early release of super benefits for members affected by COVID-19? The Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Bill 2020 received Royal Assent on 24 March 2020. The ATO will accept the application from 20 April 2020. 
Until when can the ATO receive the application? 

This is only a temporary measure to allow members affected by COVID-19 to access some of their super benefits.

Financial Year Application Start Date Application End Date

2019-20

20/04/2020

30/06/2020

2020-21

01/07/2020

31/12/2020

The original cut-off date was 24 September 2020, which is exactly 6 months after the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Bill 2020 received Royal Assent on 24 March 2020. The government has subsequently extended the application date to 31 December 2020.

One of the members of the SMSF wants to apply for release of their super under the COVID-19 early access arrangements, what is the process?

The member of the SMSF can apply for the release of their super under the COVID-19 early access arrangements through myGov.  The ATO will then issue them with a determination advising of their eligibility to withdraw an amount.  When the trustees receive the determination from the member, the trustees will be authorised to release the amount of super stated in the determination. 

If the current balance of the member’s account is less than the amount approved in the determination, the trustee can release the lesser amount. 

The payment itself will normally be transferred from the SMSF's bank account to the member's personal bank account. The cash and business event can be matched off. 

How long will it take for the member to receive the rejection or approval notice? What timeframe is there for money to be transferred to the individual?

All member correspondence delivered via myGov will be available within 2-3 days. Physical mail will be subject to postal timing. The SISR requires the payment to be made by the trustee to the member as soon as practicable.

Type of Funds Initial Application Notify the Fund

APRA Funds

MyGov - 2-3 Days

ATO will notify the APRA regulated fund via Bulk Data Exchange (BDE) The files will be available by 11am AEST Monday to Friday. The files will include approved applications that the ATO processed the previous day. The Monday file will contain approvals for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

SMSF

MyGov - 2-3 Days

Members/Trustees will generally have to provide the approved determination from the ATO to the Fund Administrator / Accountant.

Can a member vary their application prior to it being processed within the fund? Can an application be revoked?

Once an application is submitted it cannot be varied. However, an application can be revoked where there is a genuine error or mistake.  

Can a member apply for this early access under Compassionate Ground - Coronavirus multiple times provided the total amount is no more than $10,000?

No. A member can only apply for one determination per financial year. However, a member can request $1K from an APRA fund and another $9k from the SMSF as long as it is in the same application. Members will not be able to make a subsequent application if they do not request or receive the full amount that has been approved. 

Will the bank account default to the member's Individual Income Tax Return account, or the bank account of the SMSF, or will the member have to re-enter the bank account details?

The individuals will provide the bank account details in the application. Please do not enter the bank account of the SMSF. On the application enter the details of the member's bank account.  

Can an amount be released from a pension account (in the retirement phase)? 

Super cannot be released from a pension account under the coronavirus early access arrangements.

The coronavirus early access arrangements allow a member of a superannuation fund to apply for the release of their preserved or restricted non-preserved benefits.

If a member is receiving an account-based pension (that is not a TRIS) they would have met a condition of release with a nil cashing restriction. This type of condition of release converts any preserved and restricted non-preserved benefits the member had in their superannuation fund into unrestricted non-preserved benefits.

As the coronavirus early access arrangements do not apply to unrestricted non-preserved benefits, amounts supporting the pension cannot be accessed under the arrangements.

However, unrestricted non-preserved benefits can be cashed at any time by the member, subject to the rules of the fund and the account-based pension, that is, outside of the coronavirus early release measure. 

Can an amount be released from a transition to retirement phase income stream (TRIS)? 

TRIS must meet the requirements of ordinary account-based pensions, the additional requirements set out in r6.01(2) of the SISR that apply to annual payments from the pension account and the restrictions set out in r6.01AB of the SISR on when a superannuation lump sum resulting from the commutation of a TRIS can be cashed.

The recent amendments to allow early access to super under the coronavirus early access arrangements do not vary the circumstances in which pension payments may be made from a TRIS or the circumstances in which an amount commuted from a TRIS can be cashed out of the superannuation fund. Hence, no amount in excess of what is already allowed to be cashed from a TRIS can be released under the coronavirus early access arrangements.

However, a member who has a TRIS that comprises of preserved or restricted non-preserved benefits may be able to commute the TRIS back to the accumulation phase within the superannuation fund (in accordance with the rules of the fund and the pension). In such a case the preserved and restricted non-preserved amounts may then be eligible to be released under the coronavirus early access arrangements. 

Will the payment be subject to the proportioning rule and are there any PAYG withholding obligations? 

The payment is subject to the proportioning rules. However, the payment is not a "withholding payment" as defined in s995-1(1) of the ITAA 1997 and an amount is not required to be withheld from the payment as it is non-assessable and non-exempt (NANE) income (see. s12-1(1A) of Schd 1, TAA). 

Will the fund be required to seek proof of member's eligibility?

No. The ATO will administer this measure through the application process, it makes the determination based on the member's self-assessment.  The member needs to retain evidence to support their application. The fund will not have all the relevant information to be able to determine whether a person is eligible or not.

Individuals will be warned during the application process about the penalties that apply to them if making a false and misleading statement. The individuals will make relevant declarations when they submit their application. 

Any compliance activity or potential fraud will be managed by the ATO with the individual. 

If my SMSF member does not meet the COVID-19 early access arrangements, is there any other way they can access their super?

Subject to the terms of your trust deed, your member can access their super when they:

They can also access super in some special circumstances, including: 

  • compassionate grounds – subject to certain limitations
  • severe financial hardship – subject to certain limitations
  • terminal medical condition
  • temporary incapacity – subject to certain limitations
  • permanent incapacity
  • super less than $200 – subject to certain limitations.

 

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