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Billion-dollar bonus: Zombie super accounts deliver Christmas cheer

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About $1 billion would flow before Christmas into the active superannuation accounts of about 700,000 Australians, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds Australia.

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It follows the latest round of consolidating lost and small inactive superannuation account balances done each April and October by the Australian Taxation Office.

ASFA deputy chair Glen McCrea said the amount of money to be transferred back into people’s super accounts would vary but the average amount would be about $1600.

ASFA said payments would be made automatically to active super and bank accounts in cases where the ATO was able to reunite members of inactive super accounts with lost balances.

Under new regulations, superannuation accounts with balances of less than $6000 would be closed and the balance automatically transferred into the holder’s current active super account.

However, if the balance is less than $200, that sum would be sent to their bank account, if the ATO has the correct details. If the owner was aged over 65, the cash would be sent to their bank account regardless of the amount.

“Last year the ATO transferred a number of large unclaimed super payments, including $600,000 to a woman aged over 65 who had recently lost her house in a fire, and to a retired man who received a payment of $120,000,” McCrea said.

The ATO pays interest on super balances at the rate of inflation, currently less than 2 per cent, and significantly lower than the average annual investment return that super fund members typically earn through their super fund.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Australians to engage with any unclaimed super that they may have. It’s a good idea to log in to myGov to update your contact details and to check for any lost super the ATO may still be holding in your name,” McCrea said.

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