COVID -19 changes: Early access to your super

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a challenging time for everyone in Australia (and the world). This is a guide to the changes to early access to super as a response to the pandemic.

This page is about steps you can take to look after yourself and your family financially during the COVID-19 pandemic

Information on this page:
Please click the links below to visit each section

Four changes you need to know about

  1. Between 20 April 2020 and 31 December 2020, some people financially affected by COVID-19 were allowed to access their super early.
  2. If you were eligible, you could apply to access up to $10,000 before 30 June 2020. Applications for these funds closed 30 June 2020.
  3. If you were eligible, you could also apply to access up to $10,000 after 1 July 2020 and on or before 31 December 2020. Applications for these funds closed 31 December 2020. Processing and payment of these applications by super funds may occur into January 2021.
  4. COVID-19 early access to super payments are tax free and did not affect Centrelink or Veteran’s Affairs payments.

What do the changes mean?

The COVID-19 early release of super program is closed.

You will not need to pay tax on amounts released under COVID-19 early release of super and you will not need to include these amounts in your tax return.

If you continue to be financially affected by COVID -19 and struggling to pay your bills there may be other assistance available that could help. See COVID-19 Financial Survival Guide for more information.

If you are experiencing extreme financial hardship, you may be able to withdraw some of your super on other compassionate grounds. However, amounts released under other compassionate grounds will be taxed and must be included in your tax return. More information: Access Superannuation

Eligibility

Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents

To be eligible to apply for COVID-19 early release of super in the 2020 – 21 financial year you must have been:

  1. Unemployed OR
  2. Eligible to receive the JobSeeker payment, Youth Allowance for Job
    Seekers, parenting payment, special benefit or farm household allowance OR
  3. On or after 1 January 2020:
    1. you were made redundant,
    2. your working hours were reduced by 20% or more
    3. your business was suspended
    4. for a sole trader, your business was suspended or your turnover dropped 20% or more

 Temporary residents

Temporary Residents were not eligible to apply for COVID-19 early release of super in the 2020-21 financial year.  If your visa has expired and you have left Australia, you may be eligible for the Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP).

Retaining evidence

When making an application, the ATO did not require you to attach evidence to support your application. However you must still retain documents that support your eligibility for each application you made under COVID-19 early release of super.  There may be fines for early access to your super when you were ineligible to do so.

Implications of applying when you were not eligible

The ATO uses a variety of ways to check the integrity of applications for covid-19 early release of super. Where they are concerned an application may not be genuine then they will review it.

If the ATO finds that you have provided false or misleading information when you applied for COVID-19 early release of super then:

  • the ATO may reverse their approval of your application and the amount that was paid to you under COVID-19 early release of super will:
    • become assessable income
    • need to be included in your tax return and you will pay tax on the released amount.
  • The ATO may issue you with an administrative penalty of more than $12,000 for each false and misleading statement you make

If you receive a penalty notice from the ATO make sure you get advice and contact the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

Getting advice and information

Your super is your savings for retirement. If at all possible, you should retain those savings for the future.

Speak to a free financial counsellor before you access your super early. A financial counsellor can assist you to:

  • Consider your entire financial situation
  • Discuss options to resolve financial difficulty
  • Discuss ways to avoid accessing your super early
  • Discuss options on how to use your super if you decide to access it early

If you must access your super early, it is recommended you use it to improve your financial stability. Avoid using it (if you can) to pay living expenses which will be ongoing (even after the super has run out).

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