Finding lost super and super held by the ATO
According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Australians had around $13.8 billion of lost or unclaimed superannuation as at 30 June 2020. This was made up of just over 6 million lost and ATO-held accounts.
Could some of this money be yours? If you’ve ever changed your job, name or address, you may be richer than you think and have some lost or unclaimed super waiting to be found.
Funds must report ‘lost’ super to the ATO twice a year. The super laws contain a very wide definition of when super must be treated as ‘lost’. This may include situations where:
- you are ‘uncontactable’ – your fund does not have your current address and has been unable to contact you, and you have not contacted the fund or had any contributions or rollovers into your account in the last 12 months
- your account is ‘inactive’ – no contributions or rollovers have been received into your account in the last five years.
In some very specific circumstances, funds must also treat lost super accounts as unclaimed money and transfer the balances to the ATO. This may include where your lost super account is considered to be ‘small’ (less than $6,000) or ‘insoluble’ (the fund does not have enough information about you to reasonably verify your entitlement to the super balance).
How to find your lost super
- Create a myGov account at www.my.gov.au, then link the ATO to your account.
- If you already have a myGov account, just log in and click on the ATO section.
- Go to the ‘Super’ tab. In this section, you can:
- see details of all your super accounts, including any you have forgotten about
- see details of all your super, including super the ATO is holding on your behalf
For more information, go to the ATO website.
Transfer of super accounts to the ATO
Unclaimed super is different to lost super. In most cases, ‘Unclaimed super’ refers to super that is eligible to be withdrawn from your super fund, but the fund has been unable to contact you. Unclaimed super can include the super of:
- fund members aged over 65
- non-member spouses (where a person’s super has been split following breakdown of their marriage or de facto relationship)
- deceased members
- former temporary residents
- fund members with small or insoluble lost member accounts.
Generally, unclaimed super has to be reported to the ATO by super funds twice a year, and any unclaimed super money is paid to the ATO. Some state and territory public service super schemes may have to pay any unclaimed superannuation money to their State or Territory Government, but still report the money as unclaimed to the ATO. The ATO adds this data to its Superannuation Unclaimed Money Register. You can see any unclaimed super money that the ATO is holding for you through your myGov account.
Inactive low-balance accounts
Another category of super money that funds must report and pay to the ATO relates to ‘inactive low-balance accounts’.
Generally, a fund must report and pay a person’s account to the ATO if:
- the balance is less than $6,000
- the fund has not received any amount for the member within the last 16 months
- a condition entitling the person to withdraw their super has not been satisfied
- there is no insurance on the account.
If an account meets the definition of ‘inactive low-balance account’ in the legislation, a fund may be required to transfer it to the ATO even if the member is not considered to be ‘lost’ – that is, even if the fund is in contact with the member.
However, a number of specific conditions and exceptions apply. For example, an account won’t have to be transferred under these rules if the person has, in the last 16 months: changed their investment options, elected to maintain or change their insurance, made or amended a binding beneficiary nomination, or advised their fund in writing their account should not be treated as an ‘inactive low-balance account’.