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Updates to the unclaimed superannuation money protocol

The Superannuation (Unclaimed Money and Lost Members) Act 1999 (SUMLMA), more commonly known as the unclaimed superannuation money protocol, has been updated recently to provide a clearer structure going forward.

SUMLMA provides guidance on in relation to unclaimed money, lost member accounts, superannuation accounts of former temporary residents and their associated reporting and payment obligations. The update has now added content on inactive low balance accounts.

The act now clearly defines what is an inactive low-balance account, how statements and payments work, the registering of lost members and various rules for special cases.

It is important to note that the information in the protocol does not apply to super providers that are trustees of a state or territory public sector super scheme, in which:

The protocol provides administrative guidance only and should not be taken as a replacement for the law or technical reporting specifications.

Posted on 15 January '20, under super. No Comments.

SMSF schemes for illegal access of super

The ATO has issued a warning for Australians to be aware of scheme promoters that promise to allow you to withdraw your superannuation early, and illegally.

Individuals can legally withdraw super when they turn 65, even when they haven’t retired, are at their preservation age and retire, or under the transition to retirement rules while continuing to work. Super can only be accessed early under circumstances that mainly relate to specific medical conditions or severe financial hardship.

The ATO is taking action to shut down promoters who tell people they can gain access to their super before they are eligible to by setting up a self-managed super fund (SMSF), which is illegal. There has been a number of schemes that encourage individuals to channel money inappropriately and deliberately to avoid paying tax.

Penalties for involvement in illegal super schemes include fines up to $420,000 for individuals and up to $1.1 million for corporate trustees. An individual may also lose their right to be a trustee of their superannuation fund or, in some cases, jail time up to five years.

Fund trustees or members who have knowingly been involved in a scheme or been approached by anyone claiming that they can withdraw their super early should contact the ATO immediately to advise of the situation and avoid further penalties.

Posted on 13 January '20, under super. No Comments.

Do you have insurance with your super?

Most super funds offer insurance as part of their super plan. It is important to be aware of what types of insurance you are covered by through your super fund to help you determine if you need extra cover outside your super and if you have adequate support in the event that you cannot work. There are three types of insurance that can be available through super funds:

Life insurance (also known as death cover):
This is the most common of all personal super insurances, and is part of the benefits your beneficiaries will receive when you die. Life insurance is typically applied to your super account by default. It is not compulsory with your super, however, if you have a self-managed super fund (SMSF), then you are required to consider insurance as part of your investment strategy.

Total and permanent disability (TPD) cover:
This insurance pays a lump sum if you become permanently disabled and are unable to work again, protecting you against the risk that your retirement income is cut unexpectedly short. TPD cover is often automatically joined with life insurance as a default cover.

Income protection (IP) cover:
This pays you an income stream for a period of time that you are not able to work due to temporary disability or illness. It is only available as a default cover in about one-third of super funds. It may be particularly useful if you are self-employed or have debts.

From 1 April 2020, you will not be given insurance through your super fund if you are a new member under the age of 25 unless you specifically request insurance and they accept, or if you work in a dangerous job.

You can check what insurance you have with your super fund on your annual super statement, your online super account or by contacting them. Through these you can see the type and amount of cover you have, and how much you are paying for it.

Posted on 9 January '20, under super. No Comments.

Proposed measures to increase retirement savings 

Currently, people aged 65 to 74 can only make voluntary superannuation contributions if they meet the ‘work test.’ This means they must report themselves to be working a minimum of 40 hours over a 30 day period within the financial year to qualify.

The government has proposed that from 1 July 2020, individuals aged 65 and 66 will be able to make voluntary concessional and non-concessional superannuation contributions without meeting the work test. This approach will enable participants nearing retirement to increase their superannuation savings regardless of their working arrangements.

As well as this, the government also proposes to increase the age limit for receiving spouse contributions from 70 to 74, to be implemented on 1 July 2020. Currently, people aged 70 and over cannot receive any contributions made by another person on their behalf, and the change will give older Australians greater flexibility to save for their retirement.

Posted on 11 December '19, under super. No Comments.

2019 Updates to the Pension Loan Scheme 

Changes have been made to the Pension Loan Scheme (PLS) under the federal government that came into effect 1 July 2019. The updates aimed to improve the previous scheme and help more retirees boost their retirement income and pay for extra expenses such as home care.

The key features of the new Pension Loan Scheme are:

To be eligible for the PLS, the following criteria must be met:

Posted on 4 December '19, under super. No Comments.

Does your SMSF meet the sole purpose test?

If you have a self-managed super fund (SMSF), then you need to meet the sole purpose test to be eligible for the tax concessions that are normally available to super funds. The sole purpose test aims to ensure that SMSFs are maintained for the purpose of providing benefits to members upon retirement or for beneficiaries if a member dies before retirement.

When a sole purpose test is contravened, the fund will lose its concessional tax treatment and be subject to the highest tax rate. Members could also be disqualified as a trustee and face civil and criminal penalties such as fines or imprisonment. The test is divided into core and ancillary purposes, where regulated funds must be maintained for at least one core purpose and can add one or more ancillary purposes but cannot be run only for ancillary purposes.

The core purposes are paying benefits to:

The ancillary purposes are:

Posted on 27 November '19, under super. No Comments.

Super when you’re self-employed 

If you are a sole trader, or in a partnership, then you are not obligated to make super guarantee (SG) payments for yourself. However, you should still consider making personal contributions to super to help you save for retirement.

Your methods of contributing to super can depend on how you pay yourself. For example, if you receive a wage, then you can set up a regular transfer into super from your income before tax. If your income is from business revenue, you can periodically transfer a lump sum into your super depending on your cash flow.

When contributing to personal super contributions with your after-tax income, you may be eligible to claim tax deductions on them. Before claiming a deduction, you must give your selected super fund a ‘Notice of intent to claim or vary a deduction for personal contributions’ form, and received an acknowledgement from your fund.

You can contribute up to $25,000 a year in concessional super contributions, which are the contributions you can claim tax for, and an additional $100,000 a year in non-concessional super contributions, which you don’t claim deductions for. If you are aged 75 years or older, you are only able to claim tax deductions for contributions you made before the 28th of the month after you turned 75.

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

Proactive consolidation with ILBAs

Inactive low-balance accounts (ILBAs) are a new category account that needs to be reported and paid to the ATO. This was introduced in the Treasury Law Amendment (Protect Your Superannuation Package) Bill 2019 that came into effect on 1 July 2019 after first being announced in the 2018-19 Federal Budget.

ILBAs are designed to protect accounts from fee erosion. Where possible, the ATO will proactively consolidate super on behalf of an individual.

A superannuation account is considered an ILBA if the following criteria are met:

Funds are required to identify ILBAs on 30 June and 31 December each year, then report and pay them to the ATO by the statement date.

Individuals that have an account that they do not want to be transferred to the ATO as an ILBA, can consolidate super accounts using ATO online services through myGov, contact their super fund for more information or authorise their super fund to provide a written declaration to the ATO.

Posted on 13 November '19, under super. No Comments.

Commutation authorities for SMSFs

Commutation authorities are issued by the ATO when a member of a SMSF has exceeded their transfer balance cap. A commutation authority will be issued after the member has received an excess transfer balance determination alerting them they have passed the cap.

The transfer balance cap is currently $1.6 million and is applied to the combined total of all superannuation accounts held by an individual. To receive a commutation authority, a SMSF member has either;

After receiving a commutation authority, individuals must then;

This will need to be done within 60 days of receiving the commutation authority. Though the Commissioner of Taxation issues the authority, they do not have the power to grant an extension of time to respond. If you fail to commute or respond to the ATO regarding the authority, the income stream will stop being in retirement phase, affecting the fund’s entitlement to exempt current pension income. You may also be liable for penalties or subject to compliance action.

Posted on 7 November '19, under super. No Comments.

Travels with my SMSF

Travelling overseas for an extended period of time is an exciting adventure and a chance to have a break. However, SMSFs do not take a break when you do, which is why it is important to ensure everything remains in line while you are away. SMSFs that breach the residency rules are taxed at the marginal rate of 49% rather than the concessionary rate of 15%. Before travelling, trustees must consider the implications to their SMSF.

Fund recognised as an Australian fund:
The SMSF will be recognised as an Australian super fund provided that the setup of and initial contributions have been made and accepted by the trustees in Australia, however, the trust deed does not have to be signed and executed in Australia. An SMSF that has been established outside Australia will also satisfy the test if at least one of the fund’s assets are located in Australia.

Management and control of the fund carried out in Australia:
The central management and control of the fund must usually be in Australia. This means the SMSF’s strategic decisions are regularly made, and high-level duties and activities are performed in Australia, such as formulating the investment strategy, reviewing the performance of the fund’s investments and determining how assets are to be used for member benefits. Generally, funds will meet this condition even if its central management and control is temporarily outside Australia for up to two years.

Active member test:
An “active member” is a contributor to the fund or contributions to the fund have been made on their behalf. To satisfy this test, the fund will need to have active members who are Australian residents and hold at least 50% of the total market value of the fund’s assets attributable super interests, or the sum of the amounts that would be payable to active members if they decided to leave the fund.

Posted on 30 October '19, under super. No Comments.

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