The 2011-12 financial year Australian federal budget saw little substantial changes to superannuation policy, despite impending changes to superannuation set to commence next year, but saw several important changes for pensioners and older workers.
The Budget made changes around the periphery of superannuation, such as a one-time-only opportunity for people who make contributions exceeding the caps to withdraw up to 10,000 Australian dollars (AUD) without being charged tax penalties. The measure will apply where an individual has made excess concessional contributions from 2011 or later, and is meant to soften the penalties for first-time inadvertent breaches (excess concessional contributions are taxed at 31.5 per cent, in addition to 15 per cent tax when contributions are made to the fund).
Additionally, the government allocated AUD80 million over the next four years to fund the regulatory bodies that will carry out the reforms known as Simpler Super (see previous articles on Changes to the Superannuation System and system Proposals to Overhaul the Superannuation), as well as increased funding for the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, the Australian Tax Office and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority for this initiative.
The government also announced higher concessional superannuation contributions cap for eligible contributors aged 50 and over with total superannuation balances of less than AUD500,000. At AUD25,000 above the general concessional cap, the higher cap will come into effect on 1 July 2012.
Other minor changes to superannuation, such as phasing out the pension drawdown relief that was provided over the last three years, continued indexation of income threshold for co-contribution, tax compliance measures, and minor amendments to the law, were announced.
Though changes to superannuation were slight, the government announced several new initiatives that will have direct impacts on older Australians, including bonuses for who continue to work, employment services, and extended unemployment support.
New Work Bonus: As of 1 July 2011, eligible older Australians who continue to work will receive a work bonus permitting pensioners to keep up to AUD500 a month without affecting their pensions. Up to AUD6,500 can be carried forward to future years to offset future income that would otherwise be assessable against the pension income test. The government estimates the program will cost roughly AUD93.7 million to deliver over four years and will be particularly attractive to those who work in seasonal employment.
Skills Assessment and Certification for Older Workers: From July 2011, workers aged 50 or older who have trade skills but no formal qualifications will receive support to obtain formal qualifications in a AUD30 million program over four years. The measures will ensure approximately 2,500 older workers per year find better job security while addressing issues of productivity and skills shortages in the Australian economy, especially trade occupations in the areas of construction, energy, manufacturing, etc.
The initiative builds on a previous AUD43.3 million government program that commenced on 1 July 2010 entitled "Experience Plus program (Productive Ageing Package)", providing employment services to older workers such as career advise, and support and training for certain workers.
Unemployment Support for Older Workers: Employers will be paid a subsidy of AUD6,000 over six months for employing older workers over the age of 50 years who have been on income support for more than two years (who are without recent work experience). Recognizing that older workers experience, on average, longer periods of unemployment, the government will offer around 35,000 mature job seekers a new employer wage subsidy from January 2012 to June 2015 to encourage the hiring of older workers.
The budget also included funding for initiatives that will have important impacts on the welfare of older workers and pensioners, including anti-age discrimination measures; the continuation of the Ambassador for Ageing program, promoting healthy and productive ageing; establishing an Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Seniors Australians; support for grandparent caretakers; support for residential caregivers; and access to services such as broadband Internet.
源: “2011 Federal Budget – Impact on Superannuation,” Price Waterhouse Coopers, http://www.pwc.com.au/industry/asset-management/superannuation/news.htm, Alembakis, Rachel, “Proposed Budget: The impact on superannuation,” Global Pensions, 11 May 2011, http://www.globalpensions.com/global-pensions/news/2069870/proposed-budget-impact-superannuation?WT.rss_f=Home&WT.rss_a=Proposed+Budget%3A+The+impact+on+superannuation, Australia: Benefits for Age Pensioners, The Financial, 11 May 2011, http://www.finchannel.com/news_flash/Corporate_Social_Responsibility/86597_Delivering_for_Senior_Australians/, “Australian Budget,” Australian Government, 10 May 2011, http://www.budget.gov.au/.
Implementation date: 2011