Industry superannuation fund Vision Super has hit out at Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer's assertion that super taxation concessions are a "gift", saying their implementation has been more about budget fixes.
Vision Super said Australians have been subjected to at least 25 major changes to the taxation arrangements on superannuation since 1983, demonstrating the different treatment that super receives in the tax system compared to other forms of tax concessions.
"Capital gains, negative gearing, company tax, and family trust tax concessions have remained completely untouched or become more generous in the last few decades," Vision Super chief executive Stephen Rowe said.
"Combined these are worth far more than super tax concessions - and are not viewed by the government in the way that way working people's super is.
"Superannuation savings are people's foregone wages, and were once not taxed at all. Yet the government wants to raid people's super yet again to fix the budget, under the smokescreen of setting out the objectives of super.
"The objectives of super have always been very clear - they are to supplement the age pension and raise standards of living in retirement, increase national savings and to reduce dependence on future pension outlays.
"Plans to reduce the concessional caps on super contributions are simply a tax grab from the sector that has always paid its fair share - something few other sectors can claim."
He points out that in 1983, super was taxed only on the way out. Changes were then introduced that saw the first major tax changes to the end benefits.
Further in 1988, a major set of changes saw the introduction of a tax on contributions, a tax on fund earnings and limits on tax concessions on large super balances.
"For the first time, super was taxed on the way in and during the accumulation phase, meaning members lost the benefit of compound interest in exchange for a quick budget fix. Further major contribution changes occurred in 2007, 2009 and 2013," Rowe said.
He said constant changes to superannuation makes retirement planning impossible to get right, and undermines people's faith in a system where decisions they take today have an impact in 40 years' time.