Veteran fund manager Geoff Wilson says parliamentary hearings into Labor’s plans to change dividend imputation rules could prove as explosive as the Hayne royal commission hearings because they will unearth stories on how the changes will hit older Australians.

“What disturbs me is that I don’t think people understand how crippling these changes will be to people who have abided by all the laws for the last 10 or 20 years of their lives,” said Mr Wilson, the founder of Wilson Asset Management, which has 80,000 investors across its listed investment companies.

“A government is just going to change the whole environment, effectively move the goal posts.”

Mr Wilson has collected 17,000 signatures on a petition against the changes, which would stop individual and super funds claiming cash refunds for excess imputation credits not used to offset tax liabilities

“If we can get this to 50,000 to 100,000 signatures, then Labor will crack. I am 100 per cent sure of that,” he said.

Labor insists that its plan, which will save about $55 billion over a decade, is aimed at the wealthy, and says more than half of all cash refunds going to self-managed superannuation funds are going to those with balances of more than $2.4 million.

Possible protest

But signatories to Mr Wilson’s petition have told of how they may be forced to apply for a pension if the changes go ahead under a Labor government; pensioners will be exempt from the cash refund band.

“I am eligible for a disability support pension and would qualify if our funds were held in superannuation. Instead we have chosen to support ourselves by rolling over to account-based pensions,” said one retiree.

“If the refund of imputation is no longer allowed, we will roll back to superannuation and apply for disability support pensions as that would then be the most beneficial financial strategy for us – but the taxpayer will be worse off as a result.”

Mr Wilson said such stories will resonate on the stage provided by the House of Representatives Economic Committee inquiry into the changes, and he is considering mobilising Wilson Asset Management investors to stage a protest at the hearings.

“To me, every voter should be voting against Labor so this doesn’t come in. It’s people’s mothers, grandmothers, their fathers who are affected by this. To me it’s appalling.”