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SMSFs reach magic million mark

May 07, 2014

The one millionth Australian has become a member of a self-managed superannuation fund according to Australian Taxation Office (ATO) statistics to be released later this month.

The ATO's self-managed super fund statistical report for the March 2014 quarter will show that the total number of members will have reached the million mark, increasing from the 995,878 members as at 31 December 2013.

Adrian Raftery, senior lecturer in Financial Planning & Superannuation at Deakin University says that the greater control and flexibility that they provide, coupled with perceived lower running costs, have made SMSFs an attractive option for Australians.

"A million people proves that SMSFs is a lot more than just a fad and that people do like the choice of what they can invest in, particularly if it is going to cost them half as much as leaving their money in a large APRA-regulated fund," said Dr Raftery.

Australian pensions policy developments since the early 1990s, such as the introduction of the compulsory employer contributions and favourable tax incentives, has facilitated a rapid increase in pension savings in Australia, making it the world's fourth biggest pension fund sector.

"Superannuation, with its mandated employer contributions and SMSF segment, is the one true financial experiment being conducted in Australia that the rest of the world is watching."

"The super industry is massive in Australia. It's size is already greater than the market capitalisation of the Australian equities market, the combined deposits of all Australian Banks and the annual Australian Gross Domestic Product and it is only going to get bigger," said Raftery.

Approaching $1.9 trillion, Raftery expects that it will be tempting for the Abbott Government to tax the superannuation honeypot in next week's Federal Budget.

"Increasing the taxation of superannuation is a ready-made, if somewhat unpopular, decision to funding any deficits."

"That said, I think they (the Federal Government) have already copped significant flak over the proposed deficit levy and I think any proposed tax increase for super will be delayed by a year or two," said Raftery.

This article first appeared in Professional Planner magazine here.

Tags: PensionsSMSFSuper

Author: Adrian Raftery

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