1 million Aussies at risk of $25,000 fine

Anastasia Santoreneos
·2-min read
1 million Aussies at risk of $25,000 fine. Source: Getty
1 million Aussies at risk of $25,000 fine. Source: Getty

Australians who don’t meet the eligibility criteria to access up to $20,000 of their superannuation early and did so anyway could be at risk of more than $25,000 in fines, according to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Around 2.6 million Australians access their super early under the government’s early super release scheme, with 1 million accessing it twice.

Earlier this year, the ATO warned Australians caught attempting to withdraw their super without meeting the eligibility requirements could face fines of up to $12,600, but is now warning Aussies who incorrectly accessed their super a second time could cop that same fine twice.A double offender would therefore face a penalty of up to $25,200.

“The ATO has been undertaking compliance since the commencement of the scheme,” an ATO spokesperson told Yahoo Finance.

“We have commenced making enquiries with individuals where we have serious concerns that their application was not made genuinely.”

In that situation, amounts paid under the Covid-19 early release of superannuation would become assessable income and need to be included in the individual’s tax returns and tax must be paid on the released amount.

What’s more, the ATO confirmed financial penalties of between $4,000 and more than $12,000 for each false and misleading statement would apply.

To date, the ATO has contacted around 5,000 Australians from the first tranche and prompted them to carefully review their eligibility before applying for the second tranche.

They’ve also stopped 2,343 applications for investigation and cancelled 130 applications before payments were made.

“We know that the overwhelming majority of Australians are honest and we want to see this assistance reach those who need it most,” the spokesperson said.

“If you have applied and think you were ineligible and may have made a mistake, or you’re just not sure, it’s much better to give us a call and make a voluntary disclosure than waiting to be audited. We’ll work with you to remedy your position.”

Am I eligible for the early release super scheme?

To apply for early super release, you must satisfy one or more of the following requirements:

  • Be unemployed;

  • Be eligible for JobSeeker;

  • Were made redundant or saw yours reduced by 20 per cent on or after 1 January 2020; or

  • You are a sole trader and your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover by 20 per cent or more.

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