ATO warning on illegal early super access

Promoter in suit and glasses consulting young couple offering advice or convincing to make deal

There are very limited circumstances where you can legally access your super early. Eligibility requirements often relate to specific expenses.

It is illegal to access your super for any reason other than when it is allowed by the superannuation law.

For most people, you can only access your superannuation when:

  • you retire and turn 60
  • you turn 65 (even if you’re still working).

Otherwise, it is illegal.

If you illegally access your super early, you could:

  • lose your retirement savings
  • pay extra tax, penalties and interest
  • be disqualified as a self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustee and have your name published online.

“As a trustee of a SMSF it is your responsibility to ensure that if you are accessing your super early, you are doing this within super laws,” the ATO cautioned.


Be careful if someone offers to help you access your super early

Illegal early access schemes encourage you to withdraw your super before you’re legally entitled to.

Beware of people promoting early access schemes. They might tell you they can help you set up a self-managed super fund (SMSF) to withdraw your super and use it to pay for personal expenses such as:

  • credit card debt
  • buy a house or car
  • go on a holiday.

If you are approached by someone who tells you to set up an SMSF, check they’re a licensed financial adviser. You can do this on the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) Moneysmart website.


Warning signs

Promoters of illegal early access schemes usually:

  • tell you to transfer or rollover your super to an SMSF so you can access it
  • target vulnerable people, including those who are under financial pressure or unaware of super laws
  • claim that you can access your super and put the money towards anything you want
  • charge high fees and commissions
  • request your identity documents.


How do I keep my super safe?

  1. If a promoter contacts you, call your accountant or the ATO on 13 10 20 straight away to get advice.
  1. Do not agree to anything and do not sign any documents or give them your personal details.
  1. Don’t access your super before you retire unless you meet one of the conditions that makes it legal to access your super and receive relevant approval.


Further help:

Please contact us if you require any clarification on SMSF rules. Our specialist Superannuation accountants have extensive experience in the tax and compliance issues specific to super and self-managed super funds. With our expert guidance, you’ll have peace of mind that you are ticking all the right boxes and avoiding any risk of non-compliance.

You can find out more about working with Marsh & Partners here. As your Absolute.Account.Ability partner we’re on a mission to make your business life better. We’ll help you set goals for your business, devise an Action Plan to make them happen and meet with you regularly to ensure you stay on track.

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GENERAL ADVICE WARNING: This information has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs. We suggest you obtain specific financial advice from a licensed financial advisor.