On 9 December 2017, the Government amended the Marriage Act 1961 and legalised same-sex marriage. It was a wonderful moment in our country’s history and something that made a difference to so many people within our society.
Australia’s LGBTQI+ community spent years working towards equality under the law, and it was a great achievement.
But when it comes to LGBTQI+ couples and their financial rights, there can still be some confusion.
So today we take a look at some of the key aspects you need to be aware of if you are in a same sex couple.
It’s important that LGBTQI+ couples understand that they must include their spouse in their annual tax return. The ATO website states:
“Your spouse includes another person (of any sex) who:
- you were in a relationship with that was registered under a prescribed state or territory law
- although not legally married to you, lived with you on a genuine domestic basis in a relationship as a couple.”
This means that regardless of whether you are married, in a registered relationship or de facto, you should include your partner’s details when you complete your annual tax return. Again, the ATO explains online why they need this information:
“Including your spouse’s income is important as we use it to work out whether:
- you are entitled to a rebate for your private health insurance
- you are entitled to the seniors and pensioners tax offset
- you are entitled to a Medicare levy reduction
- you must pay Medicare levy surcharge.”
Superannuation laws underwent significant changes back in 2008, with a focus on standardising the financial rights of LGBTQI+ people. These reforms introduced equal entitlements for same-sex couples… meaning they were considered exactly the same as married or de facto heterosexual couples under superannuation rules.
Some of these entitlements are:
- Super death benefits – you can nominate and receive benefits if your spouse dies. This includes any eligible tax concessions.
- Contributions splitting – you can split your concessional contributions with your spouse.
- Spouse contributions – you can claim a tax offset if your spouse earns less than $37,000 and you top up their super.
To make sure that your super is paid to your partner or any other chosen dependant, you could consider making a Binding Death Benefit Nomination. You will need to find out whether your super provider offers this type of nomination, and it needs to be updated every three years in order to stay current.
Superannuation isn’t included in your will. The funds held in your super are not recognised as part of your estate, so you will need to make these nominations separate to your general estate planning.
Estate planning is crucial for everyone, including LGBTQI+ couples. It is good practice to regularly review your documentation and make sure it stays up to date, so that you can be confident your wishes will be followed.
Your estate plan should outline exactly what you want to happen with your assets and any personal affairs, should you become incapacitated or pass away. Typically, it will include your will, information about your total and permanent disability and life insurance, superannuation death benefit nominations and power of attorney.
To make sure that you have legally binding documentation, it is worthwhile discussing your situation with a legal professional. Knowing that you have all your wishes formalised can help bring you and your partner peace of mind should something unforeseen happen.
Speak to your financial adviser
We understand that navigating some of these financial topics can be challenging, and that’s where our team is ready to help. Our dedicated financial advisers can talk to you about your personal situation and offer tailored recommendations.
If you’d like to find out more about how we can support you, please contact us today.
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