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  • Adjusting unclaimed superannuation

    If you become aware of a material error, or material omission, in any information in a previous unclaimed superannuation money (USM) statement, you can correct it by requesting an adjustment.

    On this page:

    The law

    The Superannuation (Unclaimed Money and Lost Members) Act 1999 (SUMLMA) states that where the Commissioner is 'satisfied' that an amount paid by a reporting fund exceeded the amount payable (if any) under the relevant subsection with respect to an individual, the Commissioner must refund the excess to the reporting fund. If the reporting fund no longer exists, the Commissioner must refund the excess to an equivalent fund.

    The Commissioner will be 'satisfied' that an amount paid exceeded the amount (if any) that was payable under the relevant subsection, once the Commissioner has processed an adjusted or amended USM statement and this results in a material decrease in the amount payable with respect to a person.

    When to lodge USM adjustments

    You have 30 days, from when you find a mistake or omission on your reported USM statement, to lodge an adjustment.

    You can request a deferral if you can't meet this deadline. Interest and penalties may apply. To help minimise these you should lodge as soon as possible.

    The adjustment request should be as a result of a genuine fund reporting error, not a change of mind by fund or member. When processing an adjustment request, evidence may be sought to support your request.

    For example, you can request an adjustment if you:

    • incorrectly reported an amount
    • forgot to include a member
    • incorrectly reported a member.

    The following examples provide guidance about what we would consider reasonable adjustment requests.

    Examples of valid adjustment requests

    Example: Incorrect Account

    Member Sarah Black with DOB 17/02/1946 is identified as a member who has reached eligibility age (generally 65 years old), where the trustee has lost contact with her.

    The account for a different member, Sarah Black with date of birth 03/10/1976, is reported and paid to the ATO in error.

    The super provider becomes aware of the reporting error and requests an adjustment as soon as possible to have the incorrect lodgment for the member cancelled and the payment refunded.

    End of example

     

    Example: System Issue - Full adjustment

    A lodgment is made for 417 members that have been identified as meeting the unclaimed money criteria.

    The super provider identifies that due to a system error only 400 members should have been reported, and payment was made for the 400 members.

    The Super provider lodges an adjustment template to request a cancellation of the entire lodgement. The super provider then re-reports for only the correct members using the same payment reference number (PRN) as the payment.

    End of example

     

    Example: System Issue - Partial Adjustment

    A lodgment is received for 32 members that have been identified as meeting the unclaimed money criteria. A matching payment is received for the lodgment.

    The super provider identifies that two of the members have been reported incorrectly due to a technical system error.

    The super provider lodges a partial adjustment template to request a cancellation of the two incorrectly reported members. The ATO cancels the lodgment for the two identified members and issues a refund to the super provider.

    End of example

     

    Example: Claim by beneficiary in progress

    The super provider was processing a claim by the beneficiary for the deceased member’s interest.

    In the meantime, the money was picked up in error through the funds automatic processing and paid to the ATO as deceased USM.

    The super provider lodges an adjustment template to request a cancellation of the incorrectly reported member. The ATO cancels the lodgment for the identified member and issues a refund to the super provider.

    End of example

    Examples of invalid adjustment requests

    Example: Adjustment not required

    A super provider identifies member Simon Kent as a member who has turned 65 years old and after reasonable attempts, has not been able to make contact with him.

    The super provider reports and pays Simon's account to the ATO in October 2020 in accordance with the law. In December 2020 Mr Kent contacts the super provider after receiving delayed mail that had been forwarded to a new address.

    In this instance the amount was not reported in error and an adjustment is not required. Simon's account was correctly identified as unclaimed at the time the unclaimed money was reported and paid to the ATO.

    The member should be directed to ATO Online Services where they may then request a direct payment of unclaimed money if eligible or may opt to rollover any ATO-held super to their chosen fund destination.

    End of example

     

    Example: Member declaration form received after lodgment

    A super provider has reported and paid USM as per their reporting obligations. The member then sends a declaration form declaring they are not a member of an inactive low-balance account.

    If at the time the reporting and payment was completed by the fund, the declaration had not been received by the super provider; then the account was correctly reported and paid as an inactive low-balance account.

    The fund should explain to the member that the reporting and payment has already concluded, and their account has been sent to the ATO in accordance with legislative requirements.

    If account has not already been proactively consolidated to an active account of the member, the member should be directed to ATO Online Services where they may then request a direct payment of unclaimed money if eligible or may opt to rollover any ATO-held super to their chosen fund destination.

    End of example

     

    Example: Member makes contact after a valid USM lodgment by fund

    A super provider determines their USM on the unclaimed money day, and reports and pays by the scheduled statement day. Six months after the money has been transferred to the ATO the member contacts the fund claiming financial hardship. The account has been reported correctly and there is no valid reason for the money to be returned.

    If account has not already been proactively consolidated to an active account of the member, the member should be directed to ATO Online services where they may then request a direct payment of unclaimed money if eligible or may opt to rollover any ATO-held super to their chosen fund destination.

    End of example

     

    Example: Member wants to access insurance

    A super provider accurately reported and paid a member's USM to the ATO. Four months later the member contacts the fund to gain access to their insurance. As this is not a reporting error, it is not required to be returned to the fund.

    The fund should explain to the member that the reporting and payment has already concluded, and their account has been sent to the ATO in accordance with legislative requirements.

    End of example

    How to lodge USM adjustments

    Increase adjustments

    If your adjustment involves an increased USM amount, report this to us by sending a new USM lodgment for the additional amount via SuperStream.

    Decrease, transfer or cancel adjustments

    Use the USM adjustment template if you need to decrease, transfer or cancel a previously reported entitlement. You can then send a new USM lodgment to report the correct entitlement via SuperStream.

    Ensure the USM adjustment template is completed as per the data specifications and complete and accurate information is provided. Failure to do so may require you to resubmit a corrected template.

    Lodge your completed USM adjustment template through the Business Portal.

    Next steps:

    USM adjustment template instructions

    Lodge your completed USM adjustment template through the Business Portal. Please refer to the information below for step-by-step instructions.

    To use the Business Portal to lodge USM templates, you:

    • Log on to the Business Portal and select Mail and New message.
    • Select the Superannuation topic.
    • Select the Lodge USM Adjustment/Non-Lodgment Templates Advice subject line and Next.
    • Select Add under attachments to attach your USM template, check and then send.

    For more formatting information about attachments refer to send and view mail.

    Why USM can't be automatically refunded

    Lodging and paying your USM to us is a tax obligation under section 17(1) of the Superannuation (Unclaimed Money and Lost Members) Act 1999 (SUMLMA).

    Under section 17(1) of SUMLMA, the obligation to pay USM to the ATO is a tax-related liability. This means that any payment received in respect of a current or anticipated debt must be allocated in accordance with our legislation and cannot be automatically refunded.

    The reporting and payment of USM occurs in accordance with the SuperStream rollover standard, however the associated obligations are contained in the SUMLMA.

    The obligations to report and pay USM are two separate obligations and if a message is rejected the obligation to pay still stands.

    How we link the USM and the USM Outcome Response (USMOR)

    Where an adjustment request is granted, we will process the refund and provide you with the USM conversation ID and the refund amount so it can be linked to the original USM.

    Requesting a deferral for your USM adjustment

    It is in the best interest of members and funds to ensure the original lodgment is accurate. If necessary, request a deferral to ensure the information submitted to the ATO is accurate and complete.

    The Commissioner has discretion to grant a deferral of your reporting obligations where it is fair and reasonable to do so. This includes a deferral of the time to advise of a material change to, or omission in, information already given to the Commissioner under section 390-115 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (TAA).

    Lodgment deferrals extend the due date for lodgment of a document, providing additional time to lodge without incurring a failure to lodge on time (FTL) penalty.

    Next step:

    Requesting a deferral of your member reporting obligations

    See also:

    Unclaimed superannuation money protocol

    Penalties may apply

    You have a responsibility to submit accurate and complete USM reporting. You should ensure that you have appropriate processes in place to meet your legislative obligations. Your assessment of whether an account meets the appropriate definitions under the Superannuation (Unclaimed Money and Lost Members) Act 1999 should be complete at the time of lodging your statement.

    Where adjustments are later lodged they will be reviewed to confirm whether they are the result of a lack of reasonable care, and if so the Commissioner may consider penalties for false and misleading statements.

    USM non-lodgment advice template

    If you have no unclaimed money, lost member accounts or inactive low-balance accounts to report and pay, you are required to advise us of this by lodging a non-lodgment advice (NLA). Report NLAs by completing the NLA template and lodging it through the business portal.

    Next steps:

    Last modified: 30 Nov 2020QC 53866