Faced with tough times, some people may be thinking about accessing their super early.

Taxpayers may have been approached by someone (a ‘promoter’) claiming that members of super funds can withdraw their super or use an SMSF to pay off debts, buy a car, or pay for a holiday.

The ATO warns taxpayers that this is illegal.  Super funds should remind members that super is for retirement.  Members need to meet very strict conditions to access their super early, and accessing their super outside of these strict conditions is illegal.

Illegal early access to super can have a significant impact on members’ retirement savings, result in additional tax, penalties and interest, and lead to members being disqualified from ever being able to be an SMSF trustee again.  When a trustee is disqualified, their name is published and this can affect their personal and professional reputation.

If a promoter gets a member to provide them with enough personal information, they may also steal their identity and use it to access their super for themselves.