Tax file numbers and super contributions
Tax file numbers and super contributions
To effectively administer the superannuation system, it is important that tax file numbers (TFNs) are provided when contributions are made to a super fund or retirement savings account (RSA). Super funds include funds regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), self-managed super funds (SMSFs) and non-complying funds.
If you do not have a member's TFN:
- you may be liable to pay additional income tax (31.5% on top of the 15% tax you have already paid) on assessable contributions, such as employer and salary sacrifice contributions
- the member may miss out on super co-contributions
- you must return all member contributions made on or after 1 July 2007 to the person or entity that paid it within 30 days of becoming aware that you should not have accepted those contributions (see Accepting contributions)
- it will make it harder for your member to keep track of their super.
If you pay additional income tax and your member gives you their TFN later, you can claim a tax offset for the additional tax you paid. (See Claiming back additional tax.)
To help super funds operate more efficiently, from 1 July 2011, super fund trustees and RSA providers have been able to use their members' TFNs as a primary locator to link contributions and rollovers with member accounts and to locate member accounts.
From 1 January 2012, TFNs may also be used by super fund trustees and RSA providers to help consolidate super accounts within and across funds.
Valid and invalid TFNs
A valid TFN must:
- pass the TFN algorithm
- belong to the person who quoted it.
A TFN is invalid if it either:
- does not pass the TFN algorithm (for example, if the TFN includes a letter)
- does not belong to the person who quoted it.
If you provide what you believe to be a valid TFN for a member, but that TFN has been cancelled, withdrawn or is otherwise wrong, we can give you the member's correct TFN. We can only do this if they have a TFN and we can identify them. In this case you must update your records accordingly.
We will accept that a member has quoted their TFN if either:
- we provide you with the correct TFN
- it is clear that the member intended to quote their correct TFN, for example, if the TFN digits have been transposed.
If the TFN you report for a member does not match our records, we will inform you that you have not quoted a valid TFN.
TFN exemption code
If a member gives you a TFN exemption code, you cannot use that code as a valid TFN to work out if you either:
- have no-TFN-quoted contributions income
- can accept member contributions.
If a member claims a TFN exemption on the declaration they give to their employer, the employer does not have to provide details of their TFN exemption claim. The employer must only pass on TFNs that have been quoted in an employee's TFN declaration.
The TFN algorithm is a mathematical formula that tests the validity of numbers quoted as TFNs. We recommend its use in software, as it will minimise TFN errors.
You can request the algorithm if you have a business need for it. You must provide the following information in writing:
- name of the organisation or person requesting the algorithm
- contact person
- business address
- explanation of the business need.
You can send the information to us by:
Software Industry Liaison Unit
Australian Taxation Office
PO Box 9990
NEWCASTLE NSW 2300
For more information about the TFN algorithm or its use, contact the Software Industry Helpline:
Obtaining your member's TFN
If you receive calls from your members asking if you accept super co-contributions, check that you hold the member's TFN before responding. If you do not have it, we recommend you request it at this time.
Also, if you claim super co-contributions on behalf of your members, they must contact you to provide their contribution reference number. We recommend that you check you have the member's correct TFN at the same time.
When a member gives their TFN to their employer, the employer must pass it on to you.
You cannot accept any member contributions if your member has not given you their TFN.
Contributions you cannot accept include those:
- your member makes
- made by your member's spouse on their behalf.
If you receive a contribution from or on behalf of a member who has not provided their TFN, you must return the contribution to the person or entity that paid it, within 30 days of becoming aware that you should not have accepted the contribution. When you become aware of a contribution is a matter of fact, but it will generally be on the day the contribution is received. However, you do not have to return the contribution if, within 30 days of it being made, the member gives you their TFN.
If you do not have the member's TFN they may miss out on super co-contributions they may otherwise have been entitled to.
Member contributions made on or after 1 July 2007
If you receive a super co-contribution payment from us for a member and you do not have their TFN, you have 30 days to obtain the TFN so you can accept the payment.
However, if you cannot obtain the TFN you must return the co-contribution using a payment variation advice (PVA) (NAT 8451). You can use one PVA to return multiple co-contribution entitlements - you just need to ensure you complete a separate 'section D: Member variation details' for each co-contribution you're returning.
Ordinarily, you have 28 days to allocate a co-contribution entitlement to the member's account or, if you are unable to do so, a further 7 days to return the entitlement to us. We will impose general interest charge on any payments returned after this.
Member contributions made before 1 July 2007
If you receive a government co-contribution for member contributions made before 1 July 2007 and you do not have the member's TFN, you do not have to return the co-contribution.
Additional income tax
Members do not have to provide you with their TFN. However, if they don't, you must pay additional income tax on those contributions that form part of the fund's assessable income.
The contributions that are taxed in this way include:
- contributions made by an employer on behalf of a member, including salary sacrifice contributions
- any part of a transfer from a foreign super fund that is assessable income of the fund.
Applying extra tax
If your member has not quoted their TFN by the end of your income year and their account was opened:
- before 1 July 2007 - then the assessable contributions will be taxed an extra 31.5% when those contributions reach or exceed $1,000 in an income year (the extra tax is on all assessable contributions made in that income year, including the first $1,000)
- on or after 1 July 2007 - then all the assessable contributions made during the income year will be taxed an extra 31.5%.
The extra tax on these assessable contributions is in addition to the standard 15% rate of tax you pay on your taxable income.
Non-complying funds must pay an additional 1.5% tax on assessable contributions if a member has not provided their TFN.
Pay as you go (PAYG) instalment calculations
This extra tax does not impact on your PAYG instalment calculations. When you work out PAYG instalments, do not include your:
- no-TFN-quoted contributions income
- tax offset for no-TFN-quoted contributions income.
When calculating your PAYG instalments, you can exclude:
- any extra tax you must pay
- any tax offset you claim.
We generally calculate instalment rates at 15% for complying funds and 45% for non-complying funds. If your circumstances mean you pay more or less than your expected income tax liability for the relevant income year, you can vary your instalments. For example, you may have non-arm's length income that is taxed at an additional 30% on top of the 15% rate of tax for assessable contributions.
Working out your liability
You must work out your liability for the additional tax at the end of the income year in which the contributions are made. You must include contributions that are assessable income as no-TFN-quoted contributions income in your fund income tax return or SMSF annual return. If you have RSAs where members have not provided their TFN, see Retirement savings accounts (RSAs).
The following transitional provisions applied if your 2006-07 income year ended after 1 July 2007:
- The period of your 2006-07 income year after 1 July 2007 will be taken to be part of your 2007-08 income year when applying the additional tax.
- No-TFN-quoted contributions income will be treated as if it had actually been made in your 2007-08 income year if it is received on or after 1 July 2007.
Claiming back additional tax
If you pay the additional tax and your member gives you their TFN later, you may be able to claim back the additional tax as a no-TFN-quoted tax offset in your income tax return or SMSF fund annual return. You claim the tax offset in the income year in which the member first provides their TFN. However, you can only claim the no-TFN-quoted tax offset for additional tax that was payable on no-TFN-quoted contributions income in the three income years before you received the member's TFN.
The tax offset can only be claimed for tax paid on no-TFN-quoted contributions income of an earlier year. You cannot:
- pay no-TFN-quoted contributions tax for a contribution, and
- claim a tax offset for that same contribution in the same income year.
If you would like to get the benefit of this offset sooner, you can adjust your PAYG instalments to reflect the fact that you will be entitled to the offset in your next income tax return.
If you have debited the amount of additional tax from your member, you should refund this money to their account.
If a member leaves
You must pay additional tax on contributions that are assessable income as no-TFN-quoted contributions income in your fund income tax return or SMSF annual return if a TFN has not been quoted to you by 30 June of the income year you accepted the contributions.
If the former member quotes their TFN to their former fund within three years of the end of the income year in which the member's contributions that were subject to the additional tax were made, the former fund can claim a tax offset.
Interest on no-TFN-quoted tax offset
You may claim interest if all the following conditions are met:
- A member quoted their TFN to their employer before the end of an income year.
- A member's employer failed to pass on the TFN to you when they made contributions on behalf of that member.
- The contributions you received then became part of your no-TFN-quoted contributions income.
- The member quotes their TFN to you, resulting in an entitlement to a no-TFN-quoted tax offset.
- The no-TFN-quoted tax offset was applied against your income tax assessment.
The first instance you may claim interest on no-TFN-quoted tax offsets is in:
- your income tax return for the year ended 30 June 2009, or
- the substituted accounting period (SAP).
There is no time limit for claiming interest on the no-TFN-quoted tax offset.
Interest on overpayment
You must self-assess any interest on no-TFN-quoted tax offset in the current year. To help you work out this interest, an interest on overpayments (IOP) calculator is available.
There is a label on both the fund income tax return and the SMSF annual return, where you show the amount of interest on no-TFN-quoted tax offset claimed in the calculation statement.
Evidence required to claim interest
You must hold evidence to support a claim for interest on no-TFN-quoted tax offset.
First, ask the member to provide a copy of the TFN declaration that they lodged with the employer who did not pass their TFN on to you.
Unable to obtain a TFN declaration
In some instances, a member may not have kept a copy or is unable to obtain a copy of the TFN declaration from the relevant employer. In this case, the member can give you a statement.
The statement needs to state:
- the name of the employer
- that the member gave the employer authority to pass on their TFN to you.
This can be done by stating either:
- 'I completed and gave my employer a TFN declaration on or after 1 July 2007'
- 'I completed and gave my employer a TFN declaration before 1 July 2007 and indicated in the TFN declaration that I authorised my employer to pass my TFN on to my super fund.'
You should be able to provide us with evidence of the statement and show that the statement was made by the member. For example, if the statement was made by email, you could show that the email came from the member's email address as evidence that the member provided the statement.
If you receive an oral statement by phone, put the caller through 'proof of identity' procedures to establish that they are a member of your fund.
You then provide them the option of giving you a copy of their TFN declaration, if they have one.
If they do not have a copy of their TFN declaration, you can obtain a statement from them that they gave their employer authority to pass on the TFN as set out above.
To obtain an oral statement from your member, you need to:
- ask them for the name of their employer
- repeat and then confirm with them
- the information they provided
- their identity
- the name of their employer
- that they gave their employer authority to pass on their TFN to you
- give them the reference number of the call for their records
- record this information.
It is acceptable to record this information in your work flow system as an electronic note or in some other accessible form.
The rate used in calculating the interest is set by law and is reviewed every quarter.
Interest on no-TFN-quoted tax offset is calculated as follows:
number of days
amount of interest-bearing tax
interest rate for period
*366 for a leap year
The interest-bearing tax is the amount of tax payable for the no-TFN-quoted contributions income that counted towards the tax offset.
If a payment of interest extends over two or more interest rate periods, you are required to calculate a separate interest entitlement for the number of days within each different rate period that the overpayment attracts interest.
Period of interest
Interest is payable to you, or an RSA provider, for the period that:
- starts on the later of the following days
- the day the amount of interest-bearing tax was paid
- the day the amount of interest-bearing tax was required to be paid, and
- ends on the day the assessment of the no-TFN-quoted tax offset is made.
All super and RSA providers are subject to a 'full' self-assessment system under which they self-assess the amount of tax they have to pay. The assessment is deemed to be made on the day you lodge your income tax return or SMSF annual return.
Secure Future is a complying super fund. It declares an amount of $10,000 at the 'No-TFN contributions income' label in its income tax return for the 2008-9 income year. An additional 31.5% tax ($3,150) is payable on these no-TFN-quoted contributions.
The due date for lodgment of income tax returns for Secure Future is 31 March 2010, the due date for lodgment of 2008-9 income tax returns for funds with more than $2 million of income. This is also the due date for payment of tax for this return.
Secure Future is overdue in paying the total tax due. On 7 April 2010, it pays the full amount of tax owing, including the $3,150 tax on the no-TFN-quoted contributions.
In Secure Future's 2009-10 income year, Alana (a member of the fund) notices that her account was debited with $1,000 no-TFN-quoted contributions tax and so she provides her TFN to the fund. Alana advises Secure Future that she gave her TFN to her employer when she completed a TFN declaration on 10 September 2008 and she provides Secure Future with a copy of that TFN declaration.
In its income tax return for the 2009-10 income year, Secure Future claims $1,000 as a tax offset for part of the $3,150 tax paid on the no-TFN-quoted contributions of $10,000 reported in its 2009 income tax return.
Also, Secure Future claims interest of $46.12 on the interest-bearing tax of $1,000 for the period from 7 April 2010 (the day Secure Future paid the amount of interest-bearing tax) until 31 March 2011 (the day Secure Future lodges its 2010 income tax return and the day the assessment is deemed to be made).
The interest for this period is calculated as follows:
Interest on no-TFN-quoted tax offset =
Amount of payment X
number of days X
interest rate for period
07/04/2010 to 30/06/2010
85 X 4.16
01/07/2010 to 30/09/2010
92 X 4.80
01/10/2010 to 31/12/2010
92 X 4.74
01/01/2011 to 31/03/2011
90 X 5.02
Total interest payable
$9.69+$12.10+$11.95+$12.38 = $46.12
Incorrect and invalid TFNs
We will give you the correct TFN if an incorrect TFN is reported on the member contribution statement (MCS) and we are able to identify the member. We will also inform you when we are not satisfied the member has a TFN.
Generally, we make two attempts to find a correct TFN:
- via automatic data matching after the MCS is lodged
- manually, if automatic data matching is unsuccessful.
Correct TFN (Section 299TA) notices
We will advise you if any TFNs you reported do not match our systems. If we can work out the correct TFN, we'll give you notice of the correct TFN under either:
- section 299TA of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 for APRA regulated funds
- section 143A of the Retirement Savings Account Act 1997 for RSAs.
If you are advised of a correct TFN, replace the incorrect TFNs you reported to us with the correct TFNs we provide.
'Please resolve' (possible incorrect TFN) letters
We issue 'please resolve' letters if:
- the TFN or other personal details reported for a member (name, date of birth and address) do not match our records
- we cannot determine the correct TFN for the member.
The 'please resolve' letter was suggested by funds to give them the opportunity to use their own processes (for example, flagging these members in order to initiate follow-up action upon the member's next contribution) to correct a TFN before an Invalid TFN (Section 299TB) notice is issued.
When you receive a 'please resolve' letter you need to:
- find out the correct TFN or updated member details (that is, full name, address or date of birth)
- (if your records are incorrect) advise us by re-lodging your MCS within 60 calendar days of receipt of the letter. Note that other than the updated fields, all other member details on the re-lodged MCS must be the same as originally reported.
If the member confirms the data you hold is correct, you can ask the member to update their details with us directly by:
If the member advises you that the fund's records are incorrect, you should:
- arrange to update their member records as required
- re-lodge MCS as outlined in the letter.
If we have asked you to 'please resolve' members who you are unable to contact because you believe they have been affected by recent natural disasters, advise us at SuperCRT@ato.gov.au
Your email should contain the following information:
- the fund's details
- Australian business number (ABN)
- contact person's name
- phone number
- fax number
- the fund member's details
- date of birth
- account number
- other client ID.
Also include any other relevant details, such as why you think the member has been affected.
If there is no response to the 'please resolve' letter within 60 calendar days, the member will automatically be considered for a subsequent Invalid TFN (Section 299TB) notice. Only members we still cannot find a TFN for will be included in an Invalid TFN (Section 299TB) notice.
If a fund gets an Invalid TFN (Section 299TB) notice, for each member listed on the notice the fund must:
- pay no-TFN-quoted contributions tax on contributions received on or after 1 July 2007, which are part of the fund's assessable income
- refund all member contributions made on or after 1 July 2007 for these members within 30 days of receiving the notice (unless they are super co-contributions received because a member made a contribution before 1 July 2007)
- remove the member's TFN from their records
- re-lodge MCS for the member (back to 01 July 2007) within 30 days, reflecting the removal of the member's TFN and return of member contributions.
Common mismatches between the data fields reported by the fund (full name, TFN, full date of birth and address) and our client records are:
- using a different name with us, compared to their super fund (or employer), such as a cultural or preferred name (rather than legal name), for example, the same person maybe known as Jodie Ya-Chung but have Ya-Chung Tung as their legal name
- inconsistent abbreviation of a name with either the fund or us (for example, Vincenza may commonly be known as Vivie-Anne)
- a change of name that is only known to either the fund or us
- quoting a family member's or business TFN
- quoting a family member's date of birth, or reporting a dummy date of birth
- quoting a TFN that is less than 9 digits (because by definition, all individual TFNs are 9 digits and cannot start with zero)
- inadvertent misreporting of the TFN, such as transposing digits in the TFN (for example, 626 264 *** was originally quoted but the fund's system was updated to 262 264 ***)
- inadvertent overwriting of the member's TFN by the fund
- quoting a TFN exemption code that is not valid for super purposes
- quoting an old TFN, if the individual has advised the fund of a replacement TFN, or the individual has not advised the fund of the replacement TFN
- not providing an address.
Another common reason for mismatches is multiple examples of the same TFN reported by a fund for different members. Recent law changes enabling funds to use TFNs as a method of locating member accounts and facilitating the consolidation of multiple member accounts will enable these situations to be readily identified. There are conditions surrounding use of TFN as primary locator. For more detail, refer to Use of tax file numbers for super purposes.
As well as attempting to confirm TFN, name, date of birth and address with the member, these mismatches can sometimes be resolved by contacting the member's employer.
You can receive Correct TFN notices and 'please resolve' letters either electronically or in paper.
Funds that prefer to receive these notifications electronically should continue to ensure that their systems comply with the electronic reporting specification.
Funds that prefer paper correspondence can request a sample of the notifications by emailing SuperCRT@ato.gov.au
If you have further questions about Correct TFN (Section 299TA) notices or 'please resolve' letters, email SuperCRT@ato.gov.au
Invalid TFN (Section 299TB) notices
If after 60 calendar days of you receiving a 'please resolve' letter, we still cannot find a TFN for a member, we may send you a notice advising you that we are not satisfied that the member has a TFN. This notice is issued in accordance with either:
- section 299TB of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993) for APRA regulated funds
- section 143B of the Retirement Savings Account Act 1997 for RSAs.
This means that for each member listed on the notice you must:
- pay no-TFN-quoted contributions tax on contributions you have received on or after 1 July 2007, which are part of the fund's assessable income
- return all member contributions made on or after 1 July 2007 for these members within 30 days of receiving this notice - unless they are super co-contributions received because a member made a contribution before 1 July 2007 - while there is no need to return these co-contributions on separate payment variation advices (PVAs), you may want to segregate these payments in order to request general interest charge remission
- remove the member's TFN from your records
- re-lodge an MCS for the member for each financial year from the 2007-08 year onwards (as applicable) within 30 days, reflecting the removal of the affected member's TFN and the return of the member contribution.
We also send letters to affected members at the address reported on their last MCS.
What no-TFN-quoted contributions tax applies to
No-TFN-quoted contributions tax will apply to:
- contributions made by an employer on behalf of a member, including salary sacrifice contributions
- any part of a transfer from a foreign super fund that is assessable income of the fund.
These contributions must have been included as 'No-TFN contributions income' in your fund's income tax return. How the tax applies depends on the following thresholds:
- For super accounts opened before 1 July 2007, contributions that are subject to no-TFN-quoted contributions tax will be taxed an extra 31.5% once those contributions reach or exceed $1,000 in an income year - the tax will apply for all the relevant contributions including the first $1,000.
- For super accounts opened on or after 1 July 2007, all contributions that are subject to no-TFN-quoted contributions tax will be taxed an additional 31.5%.
The tax does not apply to contributions received by the fund before 1 July 2007.
If a member quotes a new TFN in the future
If the fund paid no-TFN-quoted contributions tax and, at a later stage, a member provides their TFN, the fund may be able to claim back the additional tax as a tax offset in their income tax return.
Funds can claim the tax offset in the financial year that the member provides their TFN. The claim can be made if no-TFN-quoted contributions tax was payable in one of the three most recent income years, ending before the current year.
For example, if a member provided their TFN on 15 January 2012 (that is in the 2011-12 year), their fund could claim an offset in that year if no-TFN-quoted contributions tax was payable in either the 2008-09, 2009-10 or the 2010-11 years.
The tax offset can only be claimed for no-TFN-quoted contributions tax the fund itself paid on no-TFN-quoted contributions income of an earlier year - that is, funds are not entitled to claim this offset if the no-TFN-quoted contributions income was earned by a different fund that was subsequently either wound up or became part of the fund through a successor fund transfer.
Claiming the offset does not mean that returned member contributions need to be re-contributed to the super fund.
Return of member contributions
As a general rule, all member contributions made on or after 1 July 2007 for that member must be returned within 30 days of receiving the notice, unless it is a super co-contribution received due to a member contribution made before 1 July 2007.
There may be circumstances where a fund is unable to return member contributions, such as if the fund has lost contact with the person or entity that paid them despite reasonable efforts to contact them. In this instance, we accept that the fund is unable to return the contributions.
Return of government super co-contributions
If you have accepted co-contributions for a member, subsequently received an Invalid TFN (Section 299TB) notice for that member, and are unable to obtain the correct TFN for the member, these co-contributions must be returned to us within 30 days, with a Superannuation payment variation advice (PVA) (NAT 8451). While there is no need to return these co-contributions on separate PVAs, you may want to segregate these payments in order to request general interest charge remission.
The 30-day limit is a period of grace for you to remove the contributions from the super system without breaching the preservation or contribution rules.
If you are a defined benefit fund, you are required to pay no-TFN-quoted contribution tax.
If you have members who accrue benefits for the income year but who have not quoted their TFN, we will accept a reasonable method of calculating the amount of the no-TFN-quoted contributions income for the year.
Contributions income attributable to particular members, such as salary sacrifice contributions, can be determined to be no-TFN-quoted contributions income without difficulty. However, contributions that are not attributable to a particular member must be apportioned across all members of the fund on a reasonable basis.
Without limiting acceptable methods, one way you could apportion the contributions income could be by basing it on the super salaries of the members who have accrued benefits in the income year.
Another acceptable method of apportionment would be using the amount of the members' notional taxed contributions that is required to be calculated for defined benefit members for the purpose of the excess contributions tax.
A defined benefit fund has 10 members who have accrued benefits in the income year. One member, Mr X, has not quoted his TFN.
The fund receives $100,000 of contributions income for the income year. The fund calculates the 10 members' notional taxed contributions for the income year for the purposes of the excess contributions tax. The total of all of the 10 members' notional taxed contributions is equal to $140,000.
Mr X's notional taxed contributions are $7,000.
The fund's no-TFN-quoted contributions income is calculated as
$7,000/$140,000 x $100,000 = $5,000.
Retirement savings accounts (RSAs)
Requirements for contributions made with no TFN quoted
If you have RSAs where your members have not quoted their TFN, you may have to apply extra tax (in addition to the 15% tax already applied) on certain contributions, such as employer and salary sacrifice contributions.
For information on tax rates and how to report the no-TFN-quoted contributions tax for these accounts on the Company income tax return 2008, see Applying extra tax.
What you need to do
The Company income tax return has labels where the following items can be included:
- No TFN quoted contributions at label 19U (and included in total assessable contributions at label 19W)
- No TFN tax offset is included in the calculation statement in 'Refundable tax offsets' at label E
- Interest on No TFN tax offset is included in 'Other credits' at label H7 in the calculation statement.
For the 2007-08 income year, there was no provision to claim the no-TFN-quoted tax offset and interest on No TFN tax offset. You cannot claim these until the 2008-09 income year.
When you have calculated the additional tax for each account without a TFN quoted, you must:
- include this additional tax in the amount of gross tax, to be shown at label B on the calculation statement of the Company income tax return
- attach a schedule of additional information to your tax return that states the amount of further tax on no-TFN-quoted contributions income that you included at label B.
What to do or read next
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Last Modified: Wednesday, 5 September 2012