Most not-for-profit super funds already recognise the rights of same-sex partners in regards to death benefit payouts, according to a survey by the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees.
In a poll of their member funds, 33 funds revealed that they had the rules in place to pay death benefits to same-sex partners and 13 of those funds had made such payments. This follows the introduction of “interdependency” provisions into superannuation legislation in 2004.
The survey results come at time when some groups have stepped up their opposition to the Rudd Government bills giving same-sex relationships equal status to marriage. The bills – currently before the Senate – will make it easier for same-sex partners to access superannuation entitlements, not only when a partner dies, but also in regards to the splitting of superannuation in a relationship breakdown.
Fiona Reynolds, CEO of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) said it was clear that the not-for-profit super industry recognised that same-sex couples were entitled to the same superannuation entitlements as anyone else. However, more needed to be done to ensure that same-sex couples were treated fairly by all super funds and in all circumstances.
“The proposed legislation will remove all discrimination for same-sex couples and ensure consistency across the industry in regards to superannuation entitlements,” said Reynolds.
Ms Reynolds said that existing laws denied same-sex partners access to the superannuation contribution spouse tax offset – currently worth up to $540 a year – while super lump sum death benefits were not automatically tax-free to same-sex partners as they are for others. Unlike married couples, a same sex partner cannot engage in contribution splitting with their partner.