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What disqualifies you from an SMSF

SMSF’s are regulated by the ATO and have specific eligibility criteria that members and trustees must follow. While anyone 18 years old or over can be a trustee or director of an SMSF, they mustn’t be under a legal disability, such as mental incapacity, or a disqualified person.

The ATO can render an SMSF trustee as a disqualified person if they see the need, particularly in relation to illegal early access breaches. There are other ways a person may become disqualified and some may not even realise they have been. Continuing to act as an SMSF trustee or director of the corporate trustee while disqualified is an offence, further penalties may apply.

A person is disqualified if they:

The ATO has a Disqualified trustees register to see if an individual has previously been disqualified. The register provides information and easy search options to help determine whether a potential trustee has been disqualified. It is updated quarterly and includes all individuals who have been disqualified since 2012 (when the information was first published electronically).

Posted on 20 May '19, under super. No Comments.

ATO warns of TBAR lodgement errors

With upcoming annual lodgement dates for Transfer Balance Account Reporting (TBAR), the ATO is alerting funds of common lodgement mistakes that could lead to delays and additional processing time.

The Transfer Balance Cap (TBC) is a $1.6 million cap on the total amount of superannuation benefits that a member can transfer into a tax-free retirement phase income stream. TBAR is used by SMSF trustees to report to the ATO any events that affect a member’s transfer balance. The information is used to record and track the member’s TBC and apply provisions if the member were to breach the cap.

Reports can be lodged both online or by paper forms. The electronic method is recommended by the ATO as human errors are common when using the paper form to report. These issues are often a failure to provide the fund’s ABN and failing to report the event type. When these errors occur, the form will be suspended for manual review and the ATO may need to contact funds in some cases to resolve any issues.

A TBAR must be lodged for the 2018-19 financial year if any member had a transfer balance account event occur in the last year, and if all members have a total super balance of $1 million. The due date for annual TBAR reporting is the same date as the SMSF annual return on 15 May 2019, although not all funds have the same lodgement due date. Trustees should familiarise themselves with their SMSF’s due dates and ensure they are reporting the correct information to avoid processing delays.

Posted on 10 May '19, under super. No Comments.

Super changes to protect employees’ entitlements

Several revisions from the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No.4) Bill 2018 took effect from 1 April 2019. These measures are designed to help reduce the super guarantee (SG) gap, protect employees’ super entitlements and strengthen the ATO’s ability to recover unpaid super.

Changes to disclosure laws will now allow the ATO to disclose information to employees about an employers’ failure to meet SG obligations. This will also allow for the ATO to reveal their processes involved in retrieving these amounts.

Additionally, a free voluntary online education course is now available to help employers understand and meet SG obligations. Education directions permit the ATO to instruct employers who don’t meet their SG obligations to complete the online education course, which includes an assessment element.

Individuals are encouraged to notify the ATO of non-complying employers. If your employer is approachable, you could make them aware of the online course and its benefits prior to the ATO contacting them and directing them to complete it.

Posted on 6 May '19, under super. No Comments.

Is your SMSF meeting its PAYG obligations?

The ATO has called on self-managed funds to check whether they are meeting new pay-as-you-go (PAYG) withholding obligations for capped defined benefit income streams paid to their members.

SMSFs have PAYG obligations to withhold tax from income streams that have been paid to their members in circumstances where:

If you have no tax that you need to withhold from a member’s super, then you are required to provide the individual with a pension payment summary and lodge a PAYG withholding summary with the ATO. This should be done by 14 August, following the end of the financial year that the payment was made.

Posted on 29 April '19, under super. No Comments.

Expanded super for older Australians

The 2019-20 Federal Budget has placed a strong focus on the growth of the economy whilst also having the intention to look after older Australians.

Older Australians will benefit from the work test exemption age being extended from age 64 to 66. The work test requires an individual to work at least 40 hours in any 30 day period in the financial year in order to make voluntary personal contributions.

This change in age will now allow individuals aged 65 and 66 who previously didn’t meet the work test to contribute three years of after-tax contributions in a single year, meaning up to $300,000 can be injected into an account with less than $1.6 million in super (tax-free pension threshold). This adjustment aligns with the increase for the Age Pension from 65 to 67.

Spousal contributions can now be made until age 74, up from age 65, without having to meet the work test. Under spousal contribution regulations, an individual can claim an 18% tax offset of contributions up to $3,000 made on behalf of a non-working partner. A further $3,000 can be contributed but with no tax offset.

Posted on 12 April '19, under super. No Comments.

What is your preservation age?

Superannuation laws can be confusing for everyone. These procedures often make it difficult to work out when you can retire or if there are any special conditions you need to meet before you can claim your funds. Every individual needs to be aware of their preservation age and regulations when accessing their superannuation benefits.

A person’s preservation age differs from the Age Pension. Age Pension is separate to your super and is a scheme which pays out a consistent income to help cope with the costs of living once you have retired. This age in Australia is 65 and not everyone is eligible for this system. Preservation age, however, is the age at which you can retire and access superannuation benefits. This age depends on your birth year.

Normally, accessing super benefits requires an individual to meet two conditions; reaching their preservation age and retiring from the workforce. Those who reach their preservation age but don’t intend to retire must meet other criteria to have access to their benefits

Posted on 1 April '19, under super. No Comments.

ATO to monitor high-risk LRBAs and TBARs within SMSFs

The ATO is focusing on risky Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangements (LRBAs) and failures in Transfer Balance Account Reporting (TBAR) in SMSFs this year. They have announced plans to contact trustees with high concentration risks in their funds and to crack down on misreporting.

Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangements:
LRBAs allow a superannuation fund to borrow under strict conditions. The existing population of SMSFs that have entered into LRBAs, potentially on the basis of poor or conflicting advice, is a key area of concern for the ATO and has been rated a medium to high-risk. In 2017, approximately 95% of the LRBAs were for the purpose of purchasing property. Due to this prevalence, the ATO has concerns about the risk of members’ retirement savings in the event of a property decline.

Transfer Balance Account Reporting:
TBAR is used to advise the ATO when a transfer balance account event occurs within an SMSF, enabling an individual’s transfer balance cap and total superannuation balance to be recorded and tracked. One area of TBAR arrangements the ATO will be monitoring is the reporting of capped defined benefit income streams. In 2018, approximately 86% of SMSFs reporting a capped defined benefit stream had failed in their reporting obligations.

Where the ATO identifies these areas of risky LRBAs and inadequate TBARs for SMSF members, they will contact trustees to ensure that they have understood and mitigated these risks. It would benefit trustees to have in place an adequate strategy that deals with the potential risks involved in LRBAs and be aware of their reporting obligations for transfer balance accounts.

Posted on 25 March '19, under super. No Comments.

Income stream within an SMSF

One of the best ways to ensure regular, flexible and tax-effective income as a pensioner is through an income stream from your SMSF. As a member, you can receive an income stream in a reoccurring series of benefit payments from your super fund.

Income streams from an SMSF are usually account-based, which means that the amount allocated to the pension comes directly from a member’s account. Once an account-based pension commences, there is an ongoing requirement for the trustees of the superannuation fund to ensure the pension standards and laws are met.

Standards that must be met in order for SMSFs to pay income stream pensions include:

SMSF trustees may need to amend fund trust deeds to meet the minimum pension standards. For more information on how to do this, you should consult a legal adviser. Records must be kept of pension value at commencement, taxable elements of the pension at commencement, earnings from assets that support the pension and any pension payments made.

Posted on 18 March '19, under super. No Comments.

Superannuation guide for retirement planning

As the time comes for you to consider leaving the workforce, it is necessary to plan how to make the most of your superannuation in order to strengthen the chances of a financially secure retirement. Careful planning can significantly boost your super and make a big difference to your future lifestyle.

Identify your dependants and non-dependants:
When it comes to planning your retirement and how your super will be used, ensure that you have clear plans about what happens to your super benefits and other assets in the event of your death. Identifying who will receive your super benefits becomes more important if you plan to leave them to a non-dependant for tax purposes, such as financially independent adult children.

Combine your accounts:
Consolidating your super funds could possibly save you thousands of dollars in fees. Other benefits include reducing your paperwork and making it easier to keep track of your super. You could also end up with more superannuation than you realise, as research has found that if all super fund members were to consolidate their multiple accounts, the average Australian account balance would increase by 79%.

Do a financial stocktake:
Another important step when it comes to planning your retirement is to work out what kind of income you would like to have. By planning this ahead of time, you can then calculate how much money is needed to finance your preferred retirement income. This will help in working out how much super and other savings you currently have and estimate what you will have if you continue your current savings strategy.

Posted on 8 March '19, under super. No Comments.

SMSF areas being monitored by the ATO

Self-managed super funds are closely monitored by the ATO to ensure regulations are being met across all areas. As SMSF are run by members, it is their responsibility to comply with all related super and tax laws. The independent nature of an SMSF creates an environment that people are confused by or can attempt to exploit.

One area of concern for the ATO regarding SMSFs is that these types of funds are being used to gain access to super before preservation age. Preservation age is dictated by the year in which you were born, super cannot legally be accessed before you reach this age. A growing number of investors in their 30s, far off from their preservation age, are moving their super into an SMSF in an attempt to gain access to their super early. The ATO has noticed an increase in this strategy in the last five years. If found to be doing this, penalties can include funds being wound up, a 45% tax impost being applied, administrative penalties which have a cost attached, or being disqualified from running a fund.

The ATO is also looking into possible problem areas in relation to SMSF contraventions. Loans to SMSF members, in-house assets, investing in related-party assets and failure to keep assets separated account for the bulk of the contravention reports. With that being said, the ATO lists administrative errors, sole purpose breaches, borrowings, operating standards and acquisitions of assets from related parties as categories also seen in contravention reports. To avoid these issues in relation to your funds, make sure your SMSF is accessible in regards to your assets and keep detailed records to help substantiate transactions.

Posted on 1 March '19, under super. No Comments.

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