Super guarantee: rate rise unchanged
The Budget did not announce any change to the timing of the next super guarantee (SG) rate increase. The SG rate is currently legislated to increase from 10% to 10.5% from 1 July 2022, and by 0.5% per year from 1 July 2023 until it reaches 12% from 1 July 2025.
With the SG rate set to increase to 10.5% for 2022–2023 (up from 10%), employers need to be mindful that they cannot use an employee’s salary-sacrificed contributions to reduce the employer’s extra 0.5% of super guarantee. The ordinary time earnings (OTE) base for super guarantee purposes now specifically includes any sacrificed OTE amounts. This means that contributions made on behalf of an employee under a salary sacrifice arrangement (defined in s 15A of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992) are not treated as employer contributions which reduce an employer’s charge percentage.
Super Guarantee opt-out for high-income earners
The increase in the SG rate to 10.5% from 1 July 2022 also means that the SG opt-out income threshold will decrease to $261,904 from 1 July 2022 (down from $275,000). High-income earners with multiple employers can opt-out of the SG regime in respect of an employer to avoid unintentionally breaching the concessional contributions cap ($27,500 for 2021–2022 and 2022–2023). Therefore, the SG opt-out threshold from 1 July 2022 will be $261,904 ($27,500 divided by 0.105).
Superannuation pension drawdowns
The temporary 50% reduction in minimum annual payment amounts for superannuation pensions and annuities will be extended by a further year to 30 June 2023.
The 50% reduction in the minimum pension drawdowns, which has applied for the 2019–2020, 2020–2021 and 2021–2022 income years, was due to end on 30 June 2022. However, the Government announced that the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 (SIS Regulations) will be amended to extend this temporary 50% reduction for minimum annual pension payments to the 2022–2023 income year. Given ongoing volatility, the Government said the extension of this measure to
2022–2023 will allow retirees to avoid selling assets in order to satisfy the minimum drawdown requirements.
Minimum drawdowns reduced 50% for 2022–2023
The reduction in the minimum payment amounts for 2022–2023 is expected to apply to account-based, allocated and market linked pensions. Minimum payments are determined by age of the beneficiary and the value of the account balance as at 1 July each year under Sch 7 of the SIS Regulations.
No maximum annual payments apply, except for transition to retirement pensions which have a maximum annual payment limit of 10% of the account balance at the start of each financial year.
For the purposes of determining the minimum payment amount for an account-based pension or annuity for the financial years commencing 1 July 2019, 1 July 2020, 1 July 2021 (and 1 July 2022 proposed), the minimum payment amount is half the amount worked under the formula in clause 1 of Sch 7 of the SIS Regs. The relevant percentage factor is based on the age of the beneficiary on 1 July in the financial year in which the payment is made (or on the commencement day if the pension commenced in that year).
For market linked income streams (MLIS), the minimum payment amount for the financial years commencing 1 July 2019, 1 July 2020, 1 July 2021 (and 1 July 2022 proposed) must be not less than 45% (and not greater than 110%) of the amount determined under the standard formula in clause 1 of Sch 6 of the SIS Regs.
Note that the 50% reduction in the minimum annual pension payments are not compulsory. That is, a pensioner can continue to draw a pension at the full minimum drawdown rate or above for 2019–2020, 2020–2021, 2021–2022 (and 2022–2023 proposed), subject to the 10% limit for transition to retirement pensions. However, it will generally be inappropriate to take more than the minimum annual drawdowns in the form of a pension payment given the pension transfer balance cap. Rather, it generally makes more sense to access any additional pension amount above the minimum drawdown in the form of a partial commutation of the pension instead of taking more than the minimum annual drawdowns. This is because a commutation will generate a debit for their pension transfer balance account, while an additional pension payment above the minimum will not result in a debit.