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Struggle to access 'lost' super

New Zealanders’ battle to get their lost super savings back from Australia is set to get harder.

Tuesday, February 25th 2014, 6:00AM

by Susan Edmunds

Since last year, Kiwis who have worked in Australia have been able to transfer their super accounts to KiwiSaver from Australian schemes.

But small accounts are slipping through the cracks because of the difficulty in transferring them.

Australian accounts worth less than $2000, where no contribution has been received for a year, are classed as “lost” and are transferred to the Australian Tax Office (ATO), if two pieces of written correspondence are returned unclaimed.

That threshold is to increase to $4000 this year and then to $6000.

Once the ATO has the money, it becomes much harder to access from this side of the Tasman.

Allan Rickerby, of Super Advice in New Zealand, said it was quite common for people who had worked in Australia to have had three or four jobs, and for $5000 from each to be left untouched in accounts.

He had already been contacted by 50 people who had smaller account balances that they wanted to transfer back to New Zealand.

“Because you get a new fund as you join a new employer, you could have three jobs over five years with $5000 and have it all rolled into the ATO if you haven’t kept the institution up-to-date with your latest address.”

But New Zealanders cannot get the money out of the ATO holding accounts without having an existing super fund in Australia to transfer it into.

Those schemes do not generally open funds for people who are living outside Australia. Few want the business anyway, because the money would then be transferred out immediately.

Rickerby said:  “There is huge difficulty in repatriating funds once they have been transferred to the ATO, to the point the government is calling it ‘revenue’.”

It has been reported that the lost super could generate more than A$800 million in revenue for the Australian government.

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