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SuperStream — latest developments

The SuperStream measures that were originally planned to generally apply from 1 July 2014 haven been deferred to 1 July 2015. I will now discuss the key changes.
SuperStream - latest developments

Superannuation funds

Regulated superannuation funds (ie, both APRA funds and SMSFs) must plan when they will become ready to receive contributions and data in the new SuperStream electronic standard. Originally this date was 1 July 2014, however this is now the voluntary induction date for funds and employers. There have been a number of extensions to the start date as outlined below.

Broadly, the SuperStream standard means each superannuation fund will need to obtain an electronic service address. For most APRA funds this should not prove problematic. However, for many SMSFs this requirement can seem overwhelming.

SuperStream providers

Fortunately, most major SMSF software suppliers and large SMSF administrators have strategies to enable SMSFs to readily comply with the new standard on time. I also provided a link to an ATO register of SuperStream providers in my prior article.

Naturally, appropriate due diligence of the service provider should be undertaken as a number of legal and practical risks relate to electronic gateways. For example, how are privacy issues, mistaken payments and complaints dealt with? Trustees should carefully review the detailed terms and conditions of each service provider. In doing so, bear in mind that electronic gateways offered by non-bank institutions do not necessarily have the same rigorous protocols in place.

APRA funds

APRA funds have up to 1 July 2015 to comply with the SuperStream standard. This flexibility means that APRA funds can either:

begin to receive compliant contributions on or before 3 November 2014, or

select an alternative start date to comply from by notifying the ATO of this date and providing an implementation plan to the ATO by no later than 30 September 2014. This alternative start date can be any date up to 1 July 2015.

Medium and large employers

Medium and large employers are those with 20 or more employees are required to comply with the standard by 1 July 2015. There are also alternative options that allow a transitioning in to 1 July 2017.

Small Employers

Small employers (ie, those employers with 19 or fewer employees) have until 1 July 2016 to comply with the standard.

Small employers can also utilise the free services offered by the Small Business Superannuation Clearing House to streamline their compliance.

SMSFs and related party employers

Contributions made to an SMSF from a related party employer are exempt from SuperStream. These can therefore be made using existing processes. Typically, this will cover the situation where a business is run by one or two members and that business contributes to their SMSFs. In this case, the payment and data standards are not compulsory however can be used if preferred.

Employers can use the Fund Validation Service (‘FVS’)

The FVS is a free web service developed by the ATO that will allow employers to look-up or validate e-commerce details of APRA funds (and not SMSFs).

ATO Compliance

The ATO is responsible for ensuring employers and SMSF trustees comply with their obligations under the standard.

The ATO’s compliance statement confirms that the focus will be on education and support for employers and SMSF trustees during the first 12 months that they are required to comply with SuperStream. The ATO has, for instance, stated that in the event that the new system is not working temporarily (eg, due to internet problems), an employer can still discharge their super guarantee obligations by using alternative channels (paper or electronic) and by informing the fund of the reasons for sending it in this format.

Summary — key time lines

This table summarises the key dates and action, as outlined above.

DateAction
1-7-2015Super funds (including SMSFs) — SuperStream ready
Employers with 20+ employees — SuperStream ready
See also note 1 & 2.
1-7-2016Employers with 19 or fewer employees — SuperStream ready
See also notes 1 & 3.
Notes:

  1. Contributions made to an SMSF from a related party employer are exempt from SuperStream
  2. An APRA fund and medium or large employer can agree to an alternative method to 30 June 2017
  3. The Small Business Superannuation Clearing House can be used.

Conclusions

Both superannuation fund trustees, especially SMSFs, and employers need to ensure they get ready for SuperStream. Timely action should be taken to determine what changes are needed and what action is required in view of your circumstances.

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This article is for general information only and should not be relied upon without first seeking advice from an appropriately qualified professional.

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