We are celebrating a monumental step forward for our kiwis living in Australia.
Traditionally, super is a pretty boring subject and quite difficult to make exciting. The terminology is confusing, there’s loads of red tape and big acronyms, and a bunch of clinically written policies, forms and criteria to navigate.
An extra layer of confusion and difficulty has come about for our kiwis in Australia because of the coronavirus pandemic. Our members are scrambling to understand KiwiSaver, Australian super rules, and their entitlements and options during this crisis. In some cases, our members are not even aware of what super is.
The Australian Government has made it clear that kiwis on certain visas have no access to any sort of financial aid. At one stage, Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison publicly suggested kiwis should simply move back home to NZ, something Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern fiercely rejected as a viable option for her citizens living in Australia.
New Zealand citizens living in Australia who are experiencing financial hardship due the impacts of coronavirus on jobs have only one financial support option available to them: the Temporary Early Access to Superannuation scheme. This measure allows eligible super fund members to apply to release up to $10,000 of their available super balance between 1 July and 31 December (in the 2020-21 tax year). The early release application process is managed by and payments approved by the ATO (Australian Taxation Office).
Unfortunately, the first stage of the early release scheme up to 30 June was barely accessible, and largely not useful, to most newly arrived kiwis settling in Australia.
Kiwis in Australia have been allowed since 2013 to transfer their KiwiSaver to a small number of complying super funds. However, there have always been two major problems.
First, complying super funds usually have a six-month waiting period for new members before being allowed to transfer over KiwiSaver monies. Second, there’s the shame or stigma attached to ringing up your super fund and saying, ‘’Hi, I am struggling at the moment. I would like to transfer my KiwiSaver and access some of my money under the temporary early release scheme.” This is something that just didn’t sit well with complying super funds previously and, of course, our proud community. This was happening even before applications were being sent for approval to the ATO.
A new partnership, a fresh solution
What we have managed to do is provide a solution to this madness by joining forces with First Super, a complying Australian super fund that can accept KiwiSaver transfers and, boy, have they done some cool things for us kiwis living in Australia. The new partnership started on 1 July and is initially planned to run until 30 June 2023.
First Super has acknowledged that we kiwis living here are facing difficult times. Its CEO, Bill Watson, met with the owner of NZRelo, Mark Berger, to understand the difficulties our community faces. The fund’s member-facing teams completed a workshop with NZRelo to learn about our community and our current challenges around superannuation.
First Super has prepared for the partnership, and the expected growth in new members, by launching a new live chat facility on its website with dedicated staff to manage questions submitted this way.
In addition, CEO Bill Watson instructed his administration and compliance teams to review their processes and rules with the goal of removing some of the red tape around KiwiSaver roll-ins and helping struggling New Zealanders to access some of their super where allowed.
If you’re a new First Super member, you won’t need to wait six months before being allowed to transfer your KiwiSaver balance across – once you have your member number, you can go ahead and start the process with your NZ KiwiSaver scheme. The fund has also done away with the requirement to provide certified ID or any copies of migration documents from New Zealand.
This has streamlined the process for NZRelo members to move their KiwiSaver to Australia and enable those who are eligible to apply to the ATO for a temporary early release of super payment, which will be taken from the combined KiwiSaver/First Super balance.
A quick overview of KiwiSaver and the benefits of transferring it to First Super
If you lived in New Zealand and moved to Australia, it’s likely you’ve left a KiwiSaver account behind. But what’s the point in moving those retirement savings to an Australian super account?
The Australian and New Zealand governments have an agreement that allows New Zealand residents who resettle permanently in Australia to transfer KiwiSaver* monies to an authorised super fund.
Rolling out KiwiSaver balances to your Australian super funds can be a savvy option. The New Zealand Inland Revenue’s tax on KiwiSaver investment earnings is 28% after residents leave the country, compared with a maximum 15% plus CGT for Australian superannuation accounts. By transferring KiwiSaver funds to a First Super account, more of your combined savings are kept invested for your retirement.
Want to transfer your KiwiSaver to First Super? Get the ball rolling today.
If you have a KiwiSaver that you want to move to, First Super’s Member Services Team is ready to help.
To transfer a KiwiSaver balance* to First Super, you must be (or become) a First Super member and:
- provide your Australian Tax File Number (TFN)
- provide your home address in Australia
- transfer the whole balance of your KiwiSaver
- ask your KiwiSaver fund for a Trans-Tasman Portability Approval Form (a transfer form) and fulfil any of their requirements before sending that form to First Super.
Simply email or write to First Super, providing your First Super member number and the details and KiwiSaver transfer form requested above. We will then complete the process for you.
If you want more information about temporary early release of super and the eligibility criteria, First Super has a dedicated webpage and fact sheet on the scheme.
- If you meet the eligibility requirements, you must apply through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) via the myGov website. First Super is unable to accept applications directly.
- Before applying, check how much is available in your super accounts. You may only access money that you have available in your super account up to $10,000.
Making it quicker to transfer your KiwiSaver
First Super has added 16 of the 29 KiwiSaver Trans-Tasman Portability Approval Forms to its administration system. This means most members will be able to start filling in the form straight away. Then First Super will send the completed form to your KiwiSaver fund, where they have up to 30 days to process it.
If the Kiwi Saver fund is being a bit slack, First Super will remind them again for you. Simply contact First Super on 1300 360 988 or email email@example.com to find out if they have received your Trans-Tasman Portability Approval Form back from your KiwiSaver fund.
If First Super doesn’t have your Trans-Tasman Portability Form, then you will need to ask your KiwiSaver fund for a copy. Complete the form with your account details and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 666, South Carlton VIC 3053.
First Super will email you to confirm when they sent the completed form to your KiwiSaver fund.
COVID-19 pandemic payment extended to 31 December
If you’ve been financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic, you may be eligible to access up to $10,000 from your First Super account until 31 December 2020 under the Australian Government’s temporary early release of super scheme.
Applications must be made through your MyGov account, as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) manages the scheme not the super funds. For information on eligibility and other financial support options visit firstsuper.com.au/temp-early-access.
First Super is working extremely hard to process early access to super payments. In fact, they’re processing payments above the industry standard. From 20 April to 19 July 2020, First Super had processed 95.5% of approved applications within 5 working days.
If you would like to share your experiences or make suggestions to make the First Super joining or rollover process even better, contact their Member Services Team direct on 1300 360 988 or email email@example.com.
This article was produced by First Super Pty Ltd (ABN 42 053 498 472, AFSL 223988), as Trustee of First Super (ABN 56 286 625 181). It may contain general advice which has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.
*Before making a decision to combine your superannuation, you should consider any costs, change to insurance cover or loss of benefits that may apply and, if necessary, consult a qualified financial adviser.