COVID-19 early release of super

From ATO

Last modified: 19 Jun 2020

  • COVID-19 early release of super

    If you have been financially affected by COVID-19, you may be able to access some of your superannuation early.

    Eligible citizens and permanent residents of Australia or New Zealand can both:

    • apply for up to $10,000 in 2019–20
    • apply again for up to a further $10,000 in 2020–21.

    Eligible temporary residents can apply once to access up to $10,000 of super in 2019–20. Temporary residents cannot apply after 30 June 2020.

    Applications can be submitted online through myGov:

    • until 30 June 2020 for the 2019–20 year
    • between 1 July 2020 and 24 September 2020, for the 2020–21 year.

    You will not need to pay tax on amounts released under COVID-19 early release of super and will not need to include these amounts in your tax return – amounts released under other compassionate grounds must be included

    On this page:

    See also:

    Eligibility

    On this page:

    Citizens and permanent residents of Australia and New Zealand

    To be eligible, a citizen or permanent resident of Australia and New Zealand must require the COVID-19 early release of super to assist them to deal with the adverse economic effects of COVID-19.

    In addition, one of the following circumstances must apply:

    • you are unemployed
    • you are eligible to receive one of the following:  
      • jobseeker payment
      • youth allowance for jobseekers (unless you are undertaking full-time study or are a new apprentice)
      • parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments)
      • special benefit
      • farm household allowance
       
    • on or after 1 January 2020 either:
      • you were made redundant
      • your working hours were reduced by 20% or more (including to zero)
      • you were a sole trader and your business was suspended or there was a reduction in turnover of 20% or more (partners in a partnership are not eligible unless the partner satisfies any other of the eligibility).
       

    Temporary residents

    Temporary residents can only apply for a COVID-19 early release of super in 2019-20. Applications close on 30 June 2020.

    To be eligible, temporary residents must require the COVID-19 early release of super to assist them to deal with the adverse economic effects of COVID-19.

    In addition, they must be in one of the following circumstances:

    • You hold a student visa that you have held for 12 months or more and you are unable to meet immediate living expenses.
    • You are a temporary skilled work visa holder and still employed but unable to meet immediate living expenses.
    • You are a temporary resident visa holder (excluding student or skilled worker visas) and you cannot meet immediate living expenses.

    Temporary residents cannot be eligible for COVID-19 early release of super and the Departing Australia Super Payment (DASP) at the same time. COVID-19 early release of super eligibility requires temporary residents to be on a current valid visa; DASP is only available once their visa has expired and they have left Australia.

    Assessing your eligibility

    You do not need to attach evidence to support your application. However, you should keep records and documents to confirm your eligibility as we may ask you for this information.

    You can only submit one application for COVID-19 early release of super per financial year (temporary residents can only apply until 30 June 2020).

    If you’re eligible and you want to access COVID-19 early release of super in the 2020-21 financial year, you need to apply in that financial year -between 1 July and 24 September- even if you have applied in 2019-20. Applications cannot be submitted after 24 September 2020.

    You can apply for COVID-19 early release of super even if you have previously accessed your super early in other circumstances.

    You can’t access your super early for a dependant. If your dependant is financially affected by COVD-19, they must apply themselves.

    Eligibility examples

    Example

    Edward’s employer temporarily closes her shop in late March 2020 following a downturn in trade due to COVID-19. Edward is stood down and applies for and receives $8,000 of his superannuation under COVID-19 early release of super in May 2020. By mid-June shops have reopened and Edward recommences work. When we contact Edward, he uses his payslips to show his work hours decreased by at least 20% from March to May. Edward’s eligibility is confirmed, and no further action is taken.

    End of example

     

    Example

    Audrey runs her own business as a sole trader in the fitness industry. Due to COVID-19, Audrey has a lot less work and she decides to temporarily shut down her business. Due to the financial impact, Audrey decides to apply for $7,000 from her super to help with immediate living expenses. When we contact Audrey to confirm her eligibility, she provides a link to her website and business bank records to show that her business had temporarily been suspended. Audrey is eligible for COVID-19 early release of super because her business temporarily ceased operating and she suffered a financial impact due to COVID-19.

    End of example

    Supporting our community – Integrity and compliance

    It is important that you assess your eligibility accurately and honestly.

    The intent of the measure is to support people who are adversely financially affected by COVID-19 and need help to meet expenses. While you do not need to tell us how you spend the money you should carefully consider the impact of accessing your super now.

    We are administering the COVID-19 early release of super measure on behalf of all Australians and are managing the eligibility criteria with strict guidelines. We are here to help people in our community who are doing the right thing, and will assist you if you have made a genuine mistake. However, where people deliberately exploit the system, we will take action. If we find that you have applied for COVID-19 early release of super when you do not qualify, or mainly for the purpose of obtaining a tax benefit, (for example as part of a recontribution strategy involving the claiming of a personal super contribution deduction), we will consider taking further action.

    See also

    Implications of accessing your super early

    Accessing your super early will affect your super balance and may affect your future retirement income.

    Withdrawing superannuation may also affect your:

    • income protection insurance
    • life and total permanent disability insurance cover

    Insurance may not be available on accounts that have a low balance.

    You should consider whether you need to seek financial advice before submitting your application for early release of super. Services Australia’s Financial Information Service OfficersExternal Link can give you free, confidential financial information

    See also:

    Before you apply

    Before you start the application process, you should:

    • set up your myGov accountExternal Link and link it to the ATO
    • have your Australian bank account information available; you will need this to complete your application. Only Australian bank accounts are accepted
    • check your super balance; your actual account balance may be higher or lower than that shown in ATO online or in the early release application form.

    There are several ways you can check your super balance:

    Check your total superannuation balance in ATO online services. There will be an ‘as at’ or ‘effective’ date for the balance. In most cases, it will be 30 June 2019 as funds are only required to report to us once a year. This means your account balance may have changed since it was last reported to us; it may be higher or lower than shown on ATO online or in the early release application form.

    If you have access to your super fund’s online member portal, you can log on and check your current account balance there. It might be a good time to establish a login to your fund portal if you haven’t already.

    Check the last statement that your fund issued to you. This might be by paper or email.

    Call your fund but understand that they have had a large increase in members calling and there could be delays in having your call answered.

    If your fund is a state-administered fund, or you’re a member of an exempt public sector super scheme (EPSSS), you will need to confirm whether they are allowed to release super due to COVID-19, before you submit an application.

    ATO-held super and rollovers

    ATO-held super cannot be accessed directly from the ATO for a COVID-19 early release. If you wish to access super money we currently hold for you, you will need to transfer it to your super fund before you can apply for COVID-19 early release of super.

    You can transfer ATO-held super to an eligible fund in our online services through myGov. You will need to wait for the transferred super to reach your nominated fund before you apply for COVID-19 early release.

    If you want to apply for COVID-19 early release and consolidate your super into one fund, this cannot be done at the same time. You should either:

    • wait until the rollover to your super fund is complete before you apply for COVID-19 early release of super
    • wait until your application for COVID-19 early release of super has been approved and paid into your bank account, before you consolidate any accounts.

    See also:

    Submit an application

    Applications for early release of superannuation are accepted through ATO online services via myGov.

    You can only submit one application for COVID-19 early release of super in each financial year:

    • 2019–20, between 20 April and 30 June 2020
    • 2020–21, between 1 July and 24 September 2020 (Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents only).

    This is even if the total amount you request to be released, or the actual amount released by your fund, is less than $10,000. For example, if you request $8,000, you cannot make another application to request the additional $2,000.

    If you want to apply for COVID-19 early release of super in the 2020–21 financial year, you need to submit an application in that financial year, even if you have submitted an application in 2019–20.

    The application form on myGov will display all your superannuation accounts, as reported to us by your funds. You can request the release of your super from up to five super accounts. For example, if you want to receive a total of $10,000 you can request $5,000 from one fund and a second $5,000 from another fund. This must be done within one application form.

    If you’re a member of a self-managed super fund (SMSF) and your super account is missing from your list of available funds in myGov, phone us on 13 10 20 and we’ll help with your application.

    Current super balance

    We encourage you to check your fund’s online portal to confirm your current accurate balance. Your current super balance may be lower or higher than what is shown in the application form. The amount shown in the form is the amount last reported to us and your fund does not need to report your current balance to us.

    You can apply for an amount higher than the balance shown in the application form (up to $10,000), provided your current balance is sufficient. This includes if a ‘nil’ amount is showing in the application form. For example, if you’ve confirmed your fund balance is $8,000, but the amount showing in ATO online is $0.00 you can still apply for a release up to $8,000.

    If you apply for an amount greater than your current balance, your fund will release the amount currently available (up to $10,000). For example, if you request $8,000, but your current balance is only $7500 your fund will release $7500.

    Application tips

    You need to check the eligibility criteria carefully before you apply for COVID-19 early release of super and keep records that demonstrate your eligibility. If you apply and are not eligible there may be financial or other consequences.

    To make the application process as smooth as possible, please check all your information is correct before you submit your application, including:

    • your contact details
    • the amount you request; your current balance through your fund’s online portal to ensure your request is based on the latest available balance
    • your Australian bank account details; only Australian bank accounts are accepted.

    You can only submit one application for COVID-19 early release of super per financial year.

    You can’t access your super early for a dependant. If your dependant is financially affected by COVD-19 they must apply themselves.

    An application can’t be withdrawn or cancelled once it has been submitted. If you no longer want the release of your super, you will need to contact your fund. If the bank account you provided on your application form is incorrect, contact your super fund urgently to correct it.

    If you notice another error in your application after you have submitted it, you need to contact us as soon as possible to see if we can fix the error.

    Next step:

    After you apply

    It will take us up to four business days to process your application and send your outcome letter to your myGov inbox. You may also receive an SMS notification.

    If you receive a notification from us and haven’t applied to access your super early, you need to call us or your fund as soon as possible.

    If you have an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) fund and your application is approved, you do not need to contact us or your fund. Your fund will make the payment to you without you needing to apply to them directly.

    The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) have issued guidance to super funds and expect payment to be made to members within five business days once they have been notified by us. However, this time may increase where funds need to contact you to clarify information. More information can be found on APRA’s websiteExternal Link.

    If your fund is a state-administered fund, they need to follow the rules of their trust deed to determine if they’re allowed to release super due to COVID-19. You will need to get confirmation from your fund, before you submit an application, that they can release your super early and whether they require a letter of approval (determination) from us.

    If your fund is a Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF), you will need to let them know that you have received the letter of approval from us so they can make the payment to you.

    Be aware of scams and schemes

    Early access of your super is a free government service to help and support you during the impacts of COVID-19. Be aware of scams and schemes asking you to pay to release your super.

    We’re concerned about scams or schemes where people:

    • impersonate the ATO, or a trusted organisation like your super fund, to steal your money or personal identifying information
    • approach you and charge you for services that are free, like gaining early access to your superannuation.

    If you receive a phone call, text message or email offering to help you release your super early, do not:

    • provide your personal information
    • click on any links (we never include hyperlinks to a login page)
    • share your myGov login details with anyone, under any circumstances, including your tax agent.

    You can phone us on 1800 008 540 to confirm if a contact you received is genuine.

    Stolen or misused identity

    If you are concerned that someone has accessed your super without your permission, you should check:

    • your myGov and ATO Online account and make sure your contact details are still correct
    • your superannuation account to make sure that your account details are also correct, and that there have been no unauthorised transactions.

    If you receive a text message or email stating that your myGov details have been changed, or that you have applied for early release of super when you have not, do not click on any links, and consider whether your identity has been compromised.

    If you think that someone has stolen or misused your identity, contact:

    • your super fund immediately if you identify unauthorised transactions or updates to your account, and
    • our Client Identity Support Centre on 1800 467 033 (between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday-Friday) to help you establish your tax identity.

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