Check Your Accounts, the Labour Government wants your cash, now!

In a blatant grab for cash, the Australian labour government has passed laws allowing them to transfer your money, in idle bank accounts, to the government coffers, assuming your account is not considered active for over 3 years.

From 31 May 2013 bank accounts which contain funds from $1 upwards and have not had any deposits or withdrawals in the past three years will be transferred to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC). Fees or bank interest do not count as a deposit or withdrawal.

The government has changed the definition of “unclaimed money” from 7 years of inactivity, to 3 years.

Clearly the government sees the need to generate cashflow faster, from the bank accounts and other investments held but not acted upon by its citizens and residents – perhaps those who have left Australia temporarily or permanently could be most affected.

Bank and deposit institutions are required to advise the government by way of a list, of such accounts with no deposit or withdrawal activity, by 31 May 2013. This includes Insurance companies and superannuation funds. Where the account or fund has “unidentified members” the funds need to be transferred after only 12 months.

The government is putting in place “claim procedures” (no doubt laborious) for those who identify and want to “claim back” their money, after 1 July 2013, the date they will begin to accept claims. The government will pay an amount of interest to a claimant, at a rate or method yet to be created or passed into law.

So.. get back in touch with your financial institutions including life companies and superannuation providers… or be aware, someone is watching those accounts.

Here is another specific article about the changes:

The government provides a website to help you find your ‘unclaimed money’ called for ‘future claims’ – since the institutions have not all reported to the government as yet. ASIC acknowledges on its website about the changes, “in many cases you will need to get back into contact with the financial institution who passed on the details to the government”. That institution of course will have closed the files of all such accounts after handing funds to the government.

These funds ordinarily would be invested by financial institutions and lent out to homeowners and businesses to buy their homes and run their businesses – but after May 31, the Australian Labour government believes it has better plans for the (your) money.

There is a reported $330 million of unclaimed money currently sitting in Australian bank accounts. The MoneySmart website states there is $670 million in “lost shares, bank accounts and life insurance”.

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