It was announced by the federal government when they were trying to find more money to fund budget surplus.
While that's disappeared, the plan to take your retirement income remains.
Hayley White is 21-years-old and an obvious target for Canberra's billion dollar cash grab.More stories from Today Tonight
It's a billion dollar cash grab - on May 31, all unclaimed superannuation accounts with less than $2000 in them will be transferred to the tax office.
Hayley says she’s not sure what will happen to all of her Super after May 31st.
"I've got six [accounts], there's Intrust, Sun Super, Host Plus, AMP, Rest and I'm sure there's another one, I can't remember them all."
Hayley is trying to unravel her superannuation - as many as three million Australians are in the same situation - many unaware they have multiple super accounts.
I have no idea how much money I've lost on fees, no idea,” Hayley says. “I probably don't want to know, I don't think I want to know. It's probably more than what I have in super, I wouldn't be surprised."
Hayley's worked since she was 15, had six super accounts but because they were all under $1000, with the fees, she essentially has no Super.
University of Sydney Economist Dr Michael Rafferty says Hayley is not alone
“That's not an isolated story. That is the case, and unfortunately when you've got a fund industry that is a fee-generating machine and that's the rivers of gold, why would you expect them to say to people ‘look we notice you've got a small account, you've probably got a number of small accounts, take our money and consolidate it?’ It's hardly likely to happen”, he says.
"I think the fee gouging in this industry is quite outrageous. Just bear in mind its' $17billion a year in fees that are taken out of our superannuation accounts...There's another $4billion taken out in insurance premiums."
That's $21billion of our money taken. Dr Rafferty says the superannuation funds have been ripping us all off for years. Now, the government is getting in on the act.
"This can make as much as 40% difference to your final retirement balance."
Finance expert Peter Switzer from the SwitzerSuperReport.com.au says too many people believe in the myth that somehow their superannuation is not really their money.
"There are a lot of Australians out there who've forgotten about their superannuation accounts, they don't watch programs like yours that tell people to go looking for them, there are website that do it, all those sort of things are there now but at the same point there are a lot of Australians who are just ignoring amounts of money that should be rolling over and creating a healthy retirement amount but is forgetting about it."
"That is crazy, it is our money, it is our responsibilityto get it into the right hands, whether it be yours or the best industry fund you can find."
Hayley says she doesn’t really understand how her super works.
"I mean it's kind of frustrating having so many super accounts and it is your money in your super account, but you don't really have control over it you know?”
“And it's kind of, you're just uninformed, you never really learn about it like in school there's never a class on superannuation so you just don't know anything about it."
So here’s what you can do:
- Get on the internet and search "superseeker". The first result is the ATO superseeker website. There, you can search under your name and find all of the superannuation accounts you never knew you had.
- Next, consolidate all your accounts into one. Typically this means requesting a transfer from each fund into your current super fund, usually the one your current employer uses.
- Finally. Compare super funds to find the one with the lowest fees over your working life - you will save a large fortune.
Self-managed superannuation funds also have greater tax benefits, particularly as your income increases.
"Paradoxically it turns out that the self-managed super funds are cheaper to run. Now how can that be? You would've thought with the economies of scale, these multi-billion dollar funds would be the cheapest but it turns out they turn out to be more expensive than self-managed funds,” Dr Rafferty explains.
"This is the trouble we've got two types of systems here, we've got a fabulous tax planning system for rich people, that's the self-managed system and then there's the punters like that are in the funds who are paying all the fees", he says.
Peter Switczer agrees.
"If you ignore the information that [Today Tonight is] forward, and not pull your funds together you are a complete fool, because you're wasting money because the superannuation story is a snowball effect and the longer you’re out stopping that snowball from growing, the poorer you'll be when you retire."
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