The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) warns the public of a menacing scam proliferating in suburban areas of Australia. The criminals entice the unknowing victim to illegally access their superannuation fund for multiple financial needs. It may be because of that car you really wanted, that dream vacation for your family, or just plainly getting ends meet.
After withdrawal, they will set up a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) and roll your APRA-regulated funds in them for a fee (roughly $1000 for some).
You just need to fill out blank forms and provide identity documentation while being assured that everything is legitimate and are in good faith. Then on, you can withdraw from your fund for daily use.
Financial Dangers Await You
Seems harmless, right? I mean, it’s your money anyway. And the recommendation came from your friend. What can possibly go wrong? Actually, a lot of things.
Did you know that in doing so you will be exposed to hefty financial dangers?
First, money withdrawn from your SMSF is considered part of your taxable income for the year. So you will be charged higher taxes even if you return the amount later.
Also, as a trustee, if you knowingly allow illegal access to super, you may incur penalties of up to $420,000 and jail terms of up to five years, or fines of up to $1.1 million for corporate trustees.
And much worse, you can be disqualified and be unable to operate as a trustee of an SMSF.
When Can You Access Your Superannuation?
So when can you actually get your superannuation? Remember, this fund is for your retirement. According to current laws, you can only withdraw this fund when you are retiring at your preservation age or reached 65 years old.
There are also very limited legal ways to access it earlier. These are circumstances that are related to specific medical conditions or severe financial hardships. Check out this link for more information.
What to Do When You Are Approached?
If you have been involved in any way, make sure to contact the ATO immediately. They will take into consideration if you voluntarily disclose the details and circumstances of the situation. You also need:
To stop any involvement with the scheme, organization or the person who approached you
Not sign any documents
Not provide them with any of your personal details
Phone the ATO at 13 10 20
We are working hard to have a better life ahead of us. Don’t let these erring individuals put all our efforts to waste. Practice vigilance. Let’s stay safe.