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SuperStream — impact on SMSFs

This article is to update you on my prior articles on SuperStream available at:
SuperStream — latest developments


Superannuation funds

All regulated superannuation funds must generally have an electronic service address (‘ESA’) to receive contributions, rollovers and data in accordance with SuperStream. Broadly, SuperStream refers to the payment and data standards that superannuation funds must use to ensure fast transmission of super moneys and consistent and reliable data transfers occur.


Most employers should now be making superannuation contribution payments via SuperStream.

Medium and large employers (ie, those with 20 or more employees) were required to be SuperStream ready by mid-2015 although some have transitioning relief to mid-2017.

Small employers (ie, those employers with 19 or fewer employees) should also be SuperStream ready although the ATO are unlikely to penalise them if they make genuine efforts to comply by mid-2016.

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

SMSFs and SuperStream

All SMSF trustees must be able to receive super contribution payments and information sent using SuperStream when an SMSF member’s employer starts using SuperStream. To be able to do this, each SMSF member will need to provide the SMSF’s ABN, bank account and electronic service address (ESA) to their employer.

Note that SMSFs that do not receive employer contributions or rollovers from large funds will not necessarily need to become SuperStream ready unless they start receiving contributions from an arm’s length employer or a rollover from a large fund.

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 cheque, EFT and other payment processes. Typically, this will cover the situation where a business is run by one or two members and that business contributes to their SMSFs. Broadly, the related employer test is that used for Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (Cth) purposes. In this case, the payment and data standards are not compulsory however can be used if the related employer prefers.

Contribution reserving

SuperStream generally requires contributions to be allocated to members in a short time frame (usually 3 days) and the employees details are supplied with the payment. Thus, if an employer intends for a contribution to be paid into a contribution reserve in a non-SMSF for an employee, then this may not be possible under SuperStream. However, as discussed above, fortunately contributions made to an SMSF from a related party employer are exempt from SuperStream. Thus, a related employer could still undertake contribution reserving in respect of a related employee who is a member of an SMSF.

SuperStream providers

SMSF trustees can obtain an ESA from a SMSF message provider or can obtain access through an SMSF administrator, tax agent, accountant or bank. Fortunately, most major SMSF software suppliers and large SMSF administrators have strategies to enable SMSFs to readily comply with SuperStream. The ATO also provide a link to a register of SuperStream providers.

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.

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).


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

1-7-2015 Super funds (including SMSFs) — must be SuperStream compliant
Employers (including small, medium and large) — must be SuperStream compliant
See also note 1, 2 & 3.

  1. Contributions made to an SMSF from a related party employer are exempt from SuperStream
  2. An APRA fund and some employers have to mid-2017 to comply with SuperStream
  3. The Small Business Superannuation Clearing House can be used

Superannuation fund trustees, including SMSFs, and employers need to ensure they comply with SuperStream. Timely action should be taken if you are not already compliant. Fortunately, 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.

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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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