Australian Economy

Australia aims to cut tax breaks for pension funds of the super rich

SYDNEY – Australia’s centre-left government on Tuesday said it plans to scale back tax concessions for pension funds of the super rich, as it looks to plug a budget deficit gap and ease its rising debt pile.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Labor government, which came to power in May, aims to debate the curtailment of tax concessions once it legislates on the future of superannuation – or retirement funds.

Curtailment of tax concessions paid to people with multimillion-dollar superannuation accounts would raise billions of much-needed dollars annually for the government.

“We have 32 self-managed super funds with more than US$100 million (S$140 million) in assets – the largest self-managed super fund has over $400 million in assets,” Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones said at the AFR Super & Wealth Summit in Sydney.

“The government celebrates success, but the concessional taxation of funds like these has a real cost to the budget,” he said.

The government said in its federal budget announcement last month that it sees its annual deficit widening to around A$50 billion (S$45.4 billion) by the 2025/2026 financial year, as commodity prices cool and spending pressures mount.

Debt is forecast to bulge to A$1.16 trillion by that year, equivalent to 43 per cent of gross domestic product, due to the financial impact of the pandemic over the last two years.

Pension fund managers have benefited from a system of compulsory employer contribution introduced in the early 1990s. This has left funds flush with money to invest, but with limited domestic assets in which to invest.

Mr Jones said providing a clear objective for super funds will enable the sector to identify opportunities where the national interest and member interests align.

The government last month said it had discussions with super funds to look at investing in affordable housing projects to help fix a housing crisis.

“Superannuation funds have endorsed our Housing Accord and will work with us to leverage more investment that delivers for their investors’ and members’ interests, and for the national interest,” Mr Jones said. REUTERS

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