Australians are at risk of losing hundreds of millions of dollars of superannuation to the ato

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HUNDREDS of thousands of Australians risk having $480 million in retirement savings handed over to the tax office if they don’t take immediate action.

The huge pool of idle savings will see an average of $2400 held in 200,000 accounts move into the hands of the Australian Taxation Office until owners claim it back.

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New legislative changes made last month will increase the lost superannuation threshold from $2000 to $4000 from December 31, meaning anyone with lost accounts of up to $4000 will be moved across to the ATO.

Lost super is retirement savings kept in a fund which does not have updated information to contact a member.

It is also lost if the fund has not received a contribution or rollover for the member within the last five years.

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The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees chief executive officer Tom Garcia said increased threshold to lost accounts was a result of the ATO mopping up idle retirement accounts.

We have got nearly 30 million superannuation accounts for around 12 million working Australians so theres too many accounts,’ he said.

You can get the money back (from the ATO) but you do lose any insurance and your money is not invested in the market.’

Instead of getting decent returns on the savings balanced funds returned an average of 9.8 per cent per cent in the 2014/15 financial year the ATO calculates interest in the lost accounts at the rate of inflation, tracking at 1.5 per cent.

But an ATO spokesman said the funds can easily be claimed back at any time once they are held with the ATO.

Individuals are able to claim back their superannuation at any time,’ he said.

Fees are not charged on these accounts while with the ATO.

Mr Garcia said it is easy to claim back by simply clicking a button on the ATO website which pushes users to the mygov site.

Money can also be scaled back through the SuperSeeker website.