Hundreds of thousands of Australians are already eyeing the new early super scheme according to new figures from the ATO, and that number is set to grow.
Although applications for the COVID-19 early super release won’t open until 20 April, the ATO has already seen massive interest in the scheme.
“Currently people are able to register their interest with the ATO to be notified when application form becomes available,” an ATO spokesperson told Investor Daily.
“As at the end of 2 April, we’ve had 361,000 registrations of interest.”
Registrations are for the sole purpose of enabling the ATO to notify individuals of the availability of the application form, meaning that the final number of Aussies who actually dig into their super could be lower – or higher.
“It is too early to extrapolate these numbers into anything concrete, however some industry estimates suggest the number of applicants for the early release measures could be significantly higher than initial government forecasts,” Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees head of advocacy Melissa Birks told Investor Daily.
“AIST member funds are working closely with the ATO to ensure that the process for administrating the early release payments is as smooth as possible.”
The issue of an early super release has proven extremely divisive in Australia’s financial services sector, with AIST CEO Eva Scheerlinck warning that cashing out now will only “crystallise losses” while Senator Jane Hume warned that super funds are not “sacred cows” and accusing some trustees of “self-interest dressed in sanctimony”.
“When we emerge out [on] the other side of this crisis, the Australian people will remember who stepped up, and who checked out,” Ms Hume said.
“There is no doubt we will recover, but I think we all know that this country will never be the same again, and every industry in Australia will change after this. Superannuation will not be immune to this change.”
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) declined to comment for this article, saying it is “awaiting further advice from regulators”.