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Liz Westover : Most Recent postings

Liz Westover

Raising the pension age

2/12/2013 3:08:58 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 4  -  Views: [1653]

In recent weeks there have been calls from a number of sources for the aged pension access age to be lifted to 70. It’s an interesting proposition. The society we live in has changed in the last 100 years since the aged pension was introduced - people are living longer, they have the capacity to work longer and we now have a super system that ensures working Australians save for their retirement. As a society, we need to ensure that we have a retirement system that is sustainable on a long term ...

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Liz Westover

A New Government, a super change?

4/10/2013 1:37:51 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 0  -  Views: [1342]

As the new government starts to settle in, the super industry has been working through new and outstanding issues that need attention. The Coalition government had previously made a commitment for no unexpected, detrimental changes to super. Their decision to not appoint a specific Minister for Superannuation appears to demonstrate their intent to stick to this commitment, and certainly at this stage, there is every indication that the new government will be looking to honour their pre election ...

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Liz Westover

Should borrowing be allowed in SMSFs?

20/09/2013 12:49:26 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 1  -  Views: [1491]

This week, the Institute held its 4 th National SMSF Conference in Melbourne. The event was a resounding success with amazing feedback from delegates on the high quality technical content and calibre of speakers presenting. We were very appreciative of the regulators contribution to the conference with Stuart Forsyth from the Australian Taxation Office providing his insights into the Self-managed Super Fund (SMSF) sector along with Greg Tanzer, ASIC Commissioner discussing the recently released ...

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Liz Westover

A Super new financial year

28/06/2013 12:23:32 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 0  -  Views: [1714]

Friday, 28th June - at this time of year, the planning has been done, the strategies are in place and the final super contributions have been made. It’s a big day for the accounting profession – the last business day of the financial year. Certainly in relation to super, there are important changes taking effect from 1 July in the new financial year. These changes will impact most Australians, particularly the 0.25% increase in the super guarantee payments from employers. Accountants and their c...

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Liz Westover

Balancing superannuation policy

1/05/2013 12:42:35 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 3  -  Views: [2518]

Today’s timely announcements from Treasurer Wayne Swan and Minister for Superannuation Bill Shorten have put an end to the recent speculation on changes that the federal government may have introduced that would affect the superannuation savings of Australians. Much of the speculation had been wrong. What has been evident over the last few weeks, however, is the deep interest that Australians have in superannuation. Of significance, there were no real wholesale changes announced. In fact, the go...

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Liz Westover

Longevity of retirement savings

31/01/2013 1:11:46 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 1  -  Views: [1792]

There is no doubt that Australia’s retirement income system needs to be sustainable in the long term. We cannot expect the aged pension to support our aging population. We must therefore promote and encourage superannuation savings if Australians are to truly achieve a comfortable retirement. In addition, however we need to assess the longevity of those savings and how they can last well into a person’s retirement. In order to address the longevity issue, some in the super industry have called f...

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Liz Westover

Budgeting for super

23/01/2013 5:57:05 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 0  -  Views: [1406]

That time of year has rolled around again when interested parties put together their suggestions for consideration by the government for inclusion in the Federal Budget. As I gather my thoughts for what I will include in the Institute’s submission on superannuation matters, I am acutely aware of the government’s funding challenges as it prepares the 2013-14 Federal Budget, and that Treasurer Wayne Swan will likely look to superannuation as a source of future revenue and savings. The current tax ...

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Liz Westover

SMSFs, Related Parties and Assets

10/01/2013 11:21:20 PM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 1  -  Views: [2509]

Next week is the closing date for submissions to Treasury on the new legislation for acquisitions and disposal of certain assets by SMSFs and related parties . This measure came about from a recommendation by Jeremy Cooper and his panel following their review of Australia’s superannuation system. The recommendation made was to require all transactions involving the acquisition and disposal of assets between an SMSF and a related party to be conducted through an underlying market, where one exist...

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Liz Westover

Excess Contributions Tax back on the radar

22/11/2012 11:06:10 PM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 1  -  Views: [1587]

This week the Inspector-General of Taxation released the terms of reference for a number of reviews his office is undertaking in the next year. One item in particular drew my attention – the review into the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) compliance approach to individual taxpayers – superannuation excess contributions tax (ECT) . The Inspector-General’s review will be looking at ECT from an ATO administrative perspective, including matters such as timeliness of assessments, procedures for ve...

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Liz Westover

MYEFO announcement: some relief in super

23/10/2012 1:42:20 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 3  -  Views: [2430]

It was a welcome relief to read through today’s Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) report. The superannuation industry was not subjected to significant overhaul and the government was restrained in using super as a budgetary tool. In fact, the announcements affecting superannuation were largely sensible and consistent with good public policy. What I was delighted to see was a policy announcement on the tax treatment of assets in pension funds following the death of a fund member. Asset...

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Liz Westover

Punishing SMSF trustees – a new penalty regime

21/08/2012 10:59:36 PM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 1  -  Views: [4270]

Yesterday saw the release of draft legislation for the introduction of a new penalty regime for trustees of self-managed super funds (SMSFs). Under this new regime the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will have the power to issue administrative directions (rectification orders or trustee education) and impose penalties for contraventions by SMSF trustees. Fundamentally, I believe these measures, coming out of the Stronger Super reforms, are a positive move for the SMSF industry. Currently, the only r...

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Liz Westover

Achieving policy objectives for auditor registration

3/08/2012 2:07:29 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 0  -  Views: [1729]

As I finalised the Institute’s submission to Treasury on the draft legislation for the introduction of a new SMSF auditor registration regime, it occured to me what a challenge it must be for those writing this legislation - how important it is to get the right language and inclusions that will ensure policy objectives are met. As I delved into more of the detail contained in the draft legislation and pored over the accompanying explanatory memorandum , I kept asking myself if policy objectives ...

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Liz Westover

Registering SMSF auditors

23/06/2012 12:21:05 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 5  -  Views: [4253]

It is a great relief that the government has finally released details surrounding the SMSF auditor registration process . We knew the announcement had to be close when they announced the commencement date for registration would be 31 January 2013 in the Federal Budget in May. It’s no secret that I am supportive of a registration process, as you will have seen in previous blogs. A registration process will enable us to clearly identify SMSF auditors so we can better communicate with them and prov...

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Liz Westover

Federal Budget: real costs for consumers

11/05/2012 4:06:20 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 3  -  Views: [2867]

There were no great surprises on the superannuation front in this week’s Federal Budget announcement. We already knew about the increased tax rate on super contributions for very high income earners, and then there was the disappointing deferral of the increased contribution cap for those over the age of 50 (with balances under $500K). However, one surprise was around the increased allocation of funding to regulators and government departments to implement a number of upcoming reforms in the sup...

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Liz Westover

A super side of the Federal Budget

27/04/2012 3:38:10 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 0  -  Views: [2704]

With the federal government’s 2012-13 Budget announcement coming up on Tuesday 8 May, rumblings have started about whether superannuation is likely to feature. While I would welcome a quiet Budget from the super side of things, based on past experience, this isn’t likely. Governments in the past have often used superannuation as a budgetary tool to help achieve targets, and this year, with the government’s commitment to achieve a budget surplus, it’s unlikely that super will remain untouched. In...

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Liz Westover

Interview on Switzer - DIY super

19/04/2012 2:06:53 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 0  -  Views: [1654]

On Tuesday evening, Peter Switzer from Sky Business News interviewed me about self-managed super funds and superannuation in general. We talked about the growth of SMSFs, how to make super simpler, the accountants' exemption and whole host of other interesting topics relating to super. Feel free to watch the video and let me know what you think about some of the issues we discussed.

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Liz Westover

Latest statistics on Excess Contributions Tax

3/04/2012 4:54:00 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 0  -  Views: [2468]

The latest statistics on Excess Contributions Tax (ECT) were released this weekend by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). You’ve heard me talk about ECT and its problems before, but the latest numbers demonstrate exactly how problematic it is. The ATO has reported that over 45,000 ECT assessments for breaches of concessional contributions caps have been issued for the 2009-10 financial year – that’s a threefold increase from 2008-9 when just over 15,000 were issued. Apparently, though, it does...

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Liz Westover

A focus on improving SMSF audits

6/03/2012 11:33:21 PM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 0  -  Views: [2331]

In last week’s superannuation bulletin , the Institute reported on some of its preliminary findings coming out of quality reviews of members carrying out self-managed super fund (SMSF) audits. Our reviewers were finding that not all SMSF auditors were including an ‘emphasis of matter’ paragraph in their audit report which is now a mandatory requirement, introduced last year under the clarity auditing standards. You may have seen this issue reported in the media as well. The process brought to mi...

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Liz Westover

A super impact on policy development

13/02/2012 1:12:22 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 0  -  Views: [2273]

Off the back of last year’s tax forum, the federal government has announced a new superannuation roundtable to discuss ideas for increased retirement options available to Australians and improvements to certain superannuation concessions. I find the concept of improving superannuation concessions to be a relative state of mind; ‘improvements’ can mean different things to different people! What is important is that before any changes to superannuation concessions are introduced, full consideratio...

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Liz Westover

Refunding super to the government

3/02/2012 1:57:29 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 0  -  Views: [1539]

By now you are probably aware that I don’t agree with the concept of an excess contributions tax (ECT), and certainly not without an ability for those breaching their caps to be able to rectify the situation first. I was initially pleased with the government’s first steps to redress this situation with the announcement in last year’s federal Budget to provide relief to some Australians breaching their concessional caps. Following Treasury’s release of draft legislation for the $10,000 refund of ...

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Liz Westover

Pre-budget submission: changing the super guarantee laws

19/01/2012 10:12:01 PM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 2  -  Views: [2917]

We’ve reached that time of year for submissions to be made to Treasury in the lead up to the 2012-2013 Federal Budget. Interested parties are given the opportunity to make pre-budget submissions for the federal government to consider as it develops its budget, to be delivered in May. We know the government is under considerable budgetary constraints this year, so the million dollar question is, what can we include in our submission that might actually get some traction? Let’s face it, asking for...

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Liz Westover

Positive trends for SMSF Auditors

16/12/2011 2:15:11 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 1  -  Views: [3182]

I read with interest the SMSF statistical overview released by the ATO this week for 2009. The original SMSF statistical summary was released two years ago in December 2009 as part of Jeremy Cooper’s review of Australia’s superannuation system. This original summary debunked many of the myths that had existed surrounding SMSFs, and changed many of the discussions throughout the Cooper review. I was most interested in some of the results in the recent report surrounding SMSF auditors. In July 200...

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Liz Westover

Slow down on super reforms

9/12/2011 5:08:49 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 1  -  Views: [1962]

2011 has been a big year for the super industry, filled with announcements, papers, consultation, discussions and decisions. 2012 will be the next phase in which much of 2011’s work turns into exposure draft legislation, more discussion and consultation but most significantly, implementation and change. 'Reform fatigue' may well be the new buzz word of 2012. I attended the ATO’s Superannuation Consultative Committee (SCC) meeting yesterday in Canberra. The SCC is a valuable forum in which indust...

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Liz Westover

SMSF growth: factors at play

21/11/2011 12:56:27 AM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 1  -  Views: [3098]

At the ASFA conference I attended in Brisbane recently, there were some interesting discussions on the various sectors of the industry, and in particular, the continued growth of self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs). Many in the larger superannuation fund sector have been critical of SMSFs, despite Jeremy Cooper’s findings that this sector is successful and well functioning. The staggering growth in the number of SMSFs in the last decade has often been attributed to accountants and financia...

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Liz Westover

Impact of auditor registration: a regional focus

27/10/2011 10:35:35 PM by Liz Westover  -  Comments: 2  -  Views: [2813]

The issues facing rural and regional accounting practices are similar to those in the city but the impact often seems to be far greater, not only for them but for their communities. I have just returned from a regional tour in the Tony Windsor heartland of Tamworth, Armidale, Gunnedah and Glen Innes. It was a very busy visit but I managed to catch up with around 100 Chartered Accountants from 26 different firms. One of the issues that was consistently raised with me was the challenges that the f...

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