Echuca-Moama has more than $22 million of unclaimed super

By Riverine Herald

ECHUCA-MOAMA and surrounding areas have turned their backs on more than $22 million of lost/unclaimed superannuation payments.

A report from the Australian Tax Office shows Australians in total walked away from hundreds of millions of dollars in super payments in just 12 months.

The lion’s share of the lost money here is from Echuca – with a total of 1843 accounts worth $10.4 million stuck in limbo because no-one seems to want their super.

That’s more than $5600 for each and every one of those accounts. Incredibly Mathoura is the next biggest offender, with $5.3 million going begging from 1173 accounts – or more than $4500 per person.

Moama’s numbers are close behind at a total of $3.5 million for lost and unclaimed payments, followed by Rochester with $2.9 million and Cohuna with $1.5 million.

Two towns below seven figures are Lockington ($829,632) and Gunbower ($270,743).

ATO assistant commissioner Graham Whyte said his department’s service MyGov consolidated more than 540,000 active, lost and unclaimed super accounts worth a staggering $4.4 billion, just last year alone.

“Often people lose touch with their fund by simply changing jobs or moving home. It’s important to know this doesn’t mean it’s lost forever, getting back in touch is easier than you think,” Mr Whyte said.

New legislation to reunite Australians with their super requires funds to report and pay “inactive and low balance accounts” to the ATO, including accounts that have not received a contribution for 16 months and have a balance below $6000.

“In total, we’ve received more than 2.3 million inactive low-balance accounts from super funds, valued at approximately $2.16 billion,” Mr Whyte said.

“We are now working to reunite Australians with these amounts by either transferring it into an active super account, or directly into their bank account where the amount is less than $200 or the member is aged over 65 years.”

“Anyone who thinks they may get a direct payment should make sure their bank account details are up to date by logging in to ATO online via MyGov.

“Even if you won’t be eligible for a direct payment, it’s important to do your future a favour by engaging with your super now.”

Peat Partners director Scott Webb described the value of lost or unclaimed super as “amazing”.

Scott said super was “very important whether you’re just starting your career or getting close to retirement age”.

He said by making regular contributions over your work life – and with the concessional tax treatment of super – you could eventually have significant savings to help fund your lifestyle after you finish work. “Lost super can also add to this balance and I think people forget that it’s their money,” Scott added.

“It is also important to keep tabs on your super, in this day and age people can potentially change jobs 10 to 15 times during their careers, so it is vitally important to make sure you track your super and consolidate it to get the best return on your super,” he said.

“The government has certainly made this easier by letting you take your super fund with you and also giving you the ability to find lost and unclaimed super.”

Scott said superannuation was also important for other reasons, including: We are living longer so retirement can last longer.

It is very important to make sure you understand how much super you need to live comfortably on after you finish work.

The age pension may not be sufficient to lead the life you want in retirement.

Approximately 65 per cent of older Australians rely on the pension or allowance as their main source of personal income in retirement.

The age pension (arguably) is there to assist dayto-day living, if you plan to go travelling when you retire or take up costly interests you need to make sure you have sufficient income from additional sources to be able to still afford to do these things.

Super is an effective, and one of the best ways to save for the long term.

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