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Deciding Between Corporate Versus Individual Trustees For An SMSF

If you have a Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF), the Fund is considered to be a trust and must have a trustee. There are two options as to who this trustee can be.

Barring a few exceptions, it can be individual members, or it alternatively can be a company with the members as the directors and shareholders of the company. The choice, either way, is that the trustee of an SMSF can be either an individual trustee or a company as a trustee.

When choosing the appropriate trustee structure for your SMSF, a closer examination of the advantages and disadvantages will assist you in determining what is right for your needs.

The Cost

When looking specifically at the cost, a company as a trustee could initially cost around $1,000 or more to establish. An annual fee of roughly $50 will also need to be paid to ASIC, and when you are finished with the company, there will be costs associated with deregistering it. Using individual trustees, there is no initial cost associated.

Asset Separation

Most importantly, you have asset separation. The assets are held in the name of a separate entity; if the individuals are ever attacked financially, there is nothing to point toward the super fund.  Even though the fund’s assets should be protected even with individual trustees, if assets are in the individual names, you will need to spend legal fees to prove they are fund assets.

If the fund members are changed, you will need to change the trustees, and if you change the trustees, you need to change the ownership of all the assets. This will be a major administrative burden, as a lawyer will need to be engaged to do the necessary documentation to change the trustees and is required to be engaged if real estate is involved. In most instances, simply changing trustees and ownership of the assets will cost far more in the long run than the initial investment costs of setting up a corporate trustee.

Compliance Concerns

People always make mistakes, but with SMSFs, mistakes can create breaches of the law. If you have all of the assets in a special purpose company name, there is less chance that you will make the mistake of thinking that a particular fund asset (such as a bank account) will be your own asset. If you take money from the super fund account by mistake, thinking it is your own money, the auditor may report a breach. If you deposit money into your SMSF account, which is yours and not the fund’s, you may not be able to take that money back if the mistake isn’t realised in time. While price-wise, individual trustees may seem advantageous at first glance, companies as trustees possess more benefits over individual trustees.

Do you already own a company, and after reading this article, are you asking yourself if you can use that to set up a corporate trustee? It is only recommended that you do so if the company is not operating in any other capacity, but yes, doing so can save on the initial set-up costs.

There is no one size fits all advice we can give you, but we can try to determine what would best suit your needs. We may sit down with you and agree that individual trustees may be appropriate, but if our recommendation is for a corporate trustee, it is for sound financial reasoning.

Posted on 8 August '22, under super. No Comments.

What Do You Need To Do To Make Your Business Compliant With Superannuation Requirements For Employees?

It is your responsibility as an employer to set up your business to pay super into your eligible employees’ chosen super funds or their stapled super fund where no choice has been made.

If your employee hasn’t made a choice and doesn’t have a stapled super fund, you can contribute their super to your default super fund.

What you need to do:

If you pay extra super for an employee:

Salary Sacrifice Agreements

To create an effective salary sacrifice arrangement, you must:

Set Up The Arrangement For Employees’ Future Earnings

The arrangement must be set up for your employee’s future earnings. It can’t include previously earned or accrued:

Document The Arrangement

You and your employee must prepare and sign a document that states the terms of the salary sacrifice arrangement. If you don’t have this documentation, it may be difficult to establish the facts of your arrangement.

Employees can renegotiate the arrangement at any time, within the terms of their employment contract or industrial agreement. If your employee has a renewable contract, you can renegotiate the salary sacrifice amount before the start of each renewal.

Use A Complying Fund

The salary sacrifice amount must be contributed to a complying fund for the period of the arrangement.

Contributions can’t be accessed until the employee satisfies a condition of release, such as reaching retirement age.

Report The Amounts

Reportable employer super contributions (RESC) are not included in your employee’s assessable income. They do not affect the way you calculate super contributions for your employees.

The following employer super contributions are reportable:

You must report extra contributions if:

The extra contributions are reportable super contributions for employees unless you show that:

Posted on 18 July '22, under super. No Comments.

Can You Use Superannuation To Pay Off An Existing Mortgage?

A relationship has been established around superannuation and mortgage debt that could impact the stability of your retirement.

As prospective Australian retirees approach their preservation ages and retirement, those who are yet to own their own homes may struggle to maintain a comfortable retirement. Retirement plans often work out a prospective financial situation, and assume that an owned home is an already existing asset.

Housing is quickly becoming a critical aspect of retirement, alongside the pension, super and voluntary savings as the main means of ensuring a comfortable retirement for future retirees.

Mortgage debt and the threat of continued payments to pay it off is something that workers must now take into consideration when looking into their retirement, as Australians struggle to pay off their homes. Can it be paid off without the extra income earned from their work?

As more and more Australians retire with healthy superannuation balances, the allure of using that money to pay down a mortgage is strong.

Factors that may be affecting retiree’s mortgage debts could include:

Paying down a mortgage is a growing problem for retirees who are increasingly leaving the workforce with mortgage debt, which is far from the norm among middle-income Australians as recent as a decade ago. Among retirees, homeowners in the years prior to retirement (ages 55-64) had dropped from 72% in 1995 to 42% in 2015-16.

However, those who began their working careers prior to the 1990s face another challenge as they move closer to their preservation age; the superannuation guarantee was only introduced in 1992, which means that many may have accumulated less superannuation than other generations after.

It is understandable that for those approaching retirement, preferencing super over mortgage could seem like a logical move, as the extra funds generated can be diverted back into property on retirement. Using superannuation to pay a mortgage can make some tax sense – in an assets test for the Age Pension, a primary residence is exempt while superannuation is not.

This may become a more common approach for retirees and those looking to retire within the next few years. However, you should consider what the best approach is for your situation, and whether paying off the mortgage with your super is worth it in the long run. Consulting with a professional before taking any action should be your first step in this process.

Posted on 27 June '22, under super. No Comments.

Who Has The Power To Make Your Financial Decisions?

As you grow older, your aim may be to live a long, happy and healthy life. This is hopefully with the mental capacity to make your own financial and lifestyle decisions, and the appropriate superannuation to fund it.

But not everyone is always able to do this as they grow older. In the worst-case scenario, you may find yourself unable to make those choices yourself due to a diminished mental capacity (such as from mental deterioration, illness etc). If you can’t make your financial decisions, this could be bad.

There is often a misconception that people who lose their capacity to make, for example, financial decisions will simply be able to have their partner or spouse step in to make those decisions on their behalf. This is not the case.

Even if you are in a relationship with someone or own property jointly with them, they do not automatically have the power to make those financial decisions for you. This is where estate planning comes into play.

An estate plan records what you want to be done with your assets after your death. It can include documents such as:

It also covers how you want to be cared for — medically and financially — if you can no longer make your own decisions. This part of your estate plan may be in documents such as:

You may also choose to create an Enduring Power Of Attorney, which is a substitute decision-maker on your behalf. An EPOA is essential for clients who have their own Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF).

The SMSF regulations require that members of the SMSF are either a trustee of the fund or directors of a company acting as the trustee. If a fund member is incapacitated, the member cannot be a trustee or a Director of a company. If that occurs, the SMSF becomes ‘non-complying’ which means it loses the tax concessions given by the super regulations.

Depending on your state of residence, powers of attorney may have different rights and obligations, particularly with respect to financial matters. Doing research and consulting with us about what your course of action could be if you were to lose your mental capacity for financial decisions could be a great start.

Posted on 6 June '22, under super. No Comments.

How You Structure Your SMSF Could Impact The Trustees In The Fund

The way in which a self-managed super fund is structured could change its legal compliance requirements. If you are in the process of setting up an SMSF, you will need to make a decision about how to structure it appropriately to suit. 

An SMSF can be structured as a single-member fund or a multiple-member fund, with the trustees of those funds deemed as either to be individual trustees or a corporate trustee

Examining the circumstances of your members could help to narrow down the structure that will be best suited. You can also work out from the requirements of each structure whether or not a fund structure would be suitable for the needs of your members. 

Individual Trustees

Individual trustees in a single-member fund will have two trustees within the fund. One trustee must be the fund member, but cannot be the other trustee’s employee (unless they are also relatives). An example of a single member trust fund structure could be a family super fund, where the members are trustees for the fund.

Individual trustees in a multiple-member fund structure generally have between two to six members. Each fund member must be a trustee and each trustee must be a fund member. Like the single-member fund, members of this fund structure cannot be the employee of another member (unless they are relatives). 

SMSFs that use individual trustees or are looking to use individual trustees in their structure may benefit from the following: 

Corporate Trustees

SMSFs that are set up using corporate trustees, typically set up a business or company to act as a trustee. The members within these kinds of funds are known as directors and will need to apply for a director identification number as such.

Corporate trustees within a single-member fund structure may have one or two directors, but one of those directors must be the fund member. If there are two directors, the member cannot be the other director’s employer (unless they are relatives).

Corporate trustees within a multiple-member fund structure generally number between two to six members, with each fund member also being a director. A member cannot be the employee of another member (unless they are relatives). An example of a corporate trustee SMSF could be a business acting as the trustee for a super fund, where the members are also directors of the fund. 

SMSFs that use corporate trustees or are looking to use corporate trustees in their structure may benefit from the following: 

The setup of an SMSF can be a complicated process. You may benefit from speaking with a professional assisting you in its preparation and establishment. Choose someone who is qualified, registered and licensed, and right for you and your circumstances. 

Posted on 16 May '22, under super. No Comments.

The Benefits & The Downsides Of SMSF Set UP

One of the benefits of establishing or opting for an SMSF is due to the control they are given over where the money is invested. While this sounds enticing, the downside is that they involve a lot more time and effort as all investment is managed by the members/trustees. They are also often the targets of fraud and scams.

Firstly, SMSFs require a lot of ongoing investment of time:

Secondly, there are set-up and maintenance costs of SMSFs such as tax advice, financial advice, legal advice and hiring an accredited auditor. These costs are difficult to avoid if you want the best out of your SMSF. A statistical review has shown that on average, the operating cost of an SMSF is $6,152. This data is inclusive of deductible and non-deductible expenses such as auditor fees, management and administration expenses etc., but not inclusive of costs such as investment and insurance expenses.

Thirdly, investing in an SMSF requires financial and legal knowledge and skill. Trustees should understand the investment market so that they can build and manage a diversified portfolio.

Further, when creating an investment strategy, it is important to assess the risk and plan ahead for retirement, which can be difficult if one is not equipped with the necessary knowledge. In terms of legal knowledge, complying with tax, super and other relevant regulations requires a basic level of understanding at the very least.

Finally, insurance for fund members also needs to be organised which can be difficult without additional knowledge.

Although SMSFs have the advantage of autonomy when it comes to investing, this comes at a price. Members/trustees need to invest time and money into managing the fund and on top of this, are required to have some financial and legal knowledge to successfully manage the fund.

SMSF Fraud Alert

The ATO is also warning of an increase in Self Managed Super Fund identity fraud and scams targeting the retirement savings of individuals. This is something to be aware of if looking to start an SMSF and maintain it.

These fraudulent perpetrators use stolen identity information or may harvest information from individuals by cold calling the victim and presenting themselves as superannuation experts.

They typically offer superannuation comparisons and/or high-return investment options through the establishment of a fraudulent SMSF. Remain vigilant, and remember that if you are dealing with an advisor for the benefit of your SMSF, you should check to see if the advisor is listed on ASIC’s Professional registers or Moneysmart’s list of unlicensed companies you should not deal with. 

Posted on 25 April '22, under super. No Comments.

Superannuation Changes To Affect Pensioners (And What You May Still Need To Take Into Account From Last Year’s Budget)

The Federal Budget was released last Tuesday, announcing key changes to taxation and business. For superannuation, the minimum pension drawdown amount was in the spotlight.

The reduction in the minimum pension drawdown amount for superannuation pension recipients has been extended for another year by the Federal Government, as announced in the Budget for 2022-23.

The minimum pension amount will be only 50% of the general amount (the balance from which the pension is drawn). For example, a 65-year old would usually need to draw down 5% of their opening balance as a pension payment throughout the year.

For the 2022-23 financial year, the minimum amount will be reduced 50% (dropping this to 2.5%). This measure is set to cost the Federal Government around $19.2 million dollars for the 2022-23 years, but you need to be alert and conscientious about it.

Why Is That?

Whilst it is a great outcome to keep as much of your money in your super as is possible (if it’s not required for you to live on), you do need to be conscious that at some point, the remaining balance will be passed onto the next generation, potentially as a part of their inheritance.

When this money does change hands and is given to the next generation if the superannuation balance includes a taxable component, then your children may be subject to as much as 17% tax on the capital value of that balance.

Different tax treatments can apply depending on whether your super is being paid as a lump sum, income stream or mixture of both, and if your beneficiary or beneficiaries are classified as ‘tax dependants’.

A tax dependant includes:

If your beneficiaries were not financially dependent of you, such as a spouse or child under 18 years of age, then they will have to pay tax on the inheritance that you have left for them in your superannuation fund.

However, if you take that money out of your super and it passes to your children as a part of your estate instead, there will be no death duties payable (in this instance, ‘death duties’ refers to inheritance tax that may be payable, which has not been an issue since 1981).

The primary reason for the reduction in the minimum pension payment amount is to protect pensioners from having to sell their assets during a volatile period. However, this is a double-edged sword that needs to be carefully considered and weighed against your circumstances.

You May Need To Start A Discussion 

Superannuation can be a tricky area to navigate, especially when you’re trying to do it by yourself.

If you’re approaching retirement, you may have questions about how to prepare for your pension years. These may include

  1. General retirement adequacy – how much money you’ll actually need to retire on
  2. How to manage your finances in retirement
  3. Old age issues that could crop up
  4. Using your home to fund retirement and insurance (and embracing the grey nomad lifestyle)
  5. Recent changes to superannuation measures, including the extended timeframe of the minimum pension drawdown,

Consulting with a professional is the best way to ensure that your pension is currently operating at its most effective level, and they can assist you with understanding what you may need to do to get your affairs in preparation for the future.

Posted on 4 April '22, under super. No Comments.

Why Keeping Money In Your Superannuation Needs To Consider Death Benefit Taxes

Most people will want to keep as much money in their superannuation account for as long as possible. One of the primary reasons behind this is that the longer the superannuation has a chance to stay within the account, the more returns may be seen (depending on how the investment assets are performing).

Often, people will ask if they actually have to take their money out. The simple answer is no.

You never have to take your own super out if you don’t want to. There are plenty of rules regarding keeping money in super (including the conditions and requirements to withdrawing, meeting preservation ages, etc). There are very few however that force you to take it out, and very rarely will you be forced to withdraw your superannuation if you do not want to.

The only time your super must be paid out is following your death (which, technically, means that you won’t receive that money anyway, it will be your beneficiary/ies who will).

The question though is whether or not you should leave your superannuation in there until you die. It comes down to who is receiving the money from your super.

If the money is being paid out to your spouse, it will be tax-free and there will be no issue with accessing it. You can also keep as much of your superannuation in there for as long as is necessary.

When you are a married couple, you can leave it to each other. However the remaining living spouse will often end up leaving their super to their adult children, and therein lies the catch.

When your super is paid to a child who is over 25 (without a disability), the adult child has to pay 17% tax on any taxable component of their parent’s super. In this situation, taking professional advice to compare the tax consequences of taking your super early (where you pay the tax on the earnings) versus the tax position of leaving it in super and your kids paying 17% on the taxable component instead, may be needed to work out what might be best for your situation.

One of the primary concerns is that those finding themselves in this position, where they have for example $600,000 in super and in their mid-eighties are not paying tax and not regularly seeking advice are the ones whose children end up paying the tax.

It may be that the next generation needs to be involved with their elderly parents’ financial positions to ensure that they are not going to be stung with Australia’s death taxes on superannuation payments.

Remember, this tax is only payable on the taxable component of the superannuation – there are strategies that can be put in place during your sixties that can reduce the taxable component of your super (without taking it out and remaining in your name).

Everyone in their sixties should be taking advice from professionals so that the impact of death benefit taxes are reduced for their adult children when it is mandatory for their parents’ superannuation to be paid out to them.

Posted on 14 March '22, under super. No Comments.

Structured Settlement Contributions – What Are They And Why Should You Care?

Disasters, be they natural or man-made, can happen to anyone. It could be a car accident, a tree crashing through the roof, or a bushfire hitting your residence. In any case, an event that causes significant harm or impact that affects someone’s everyday life in an adverse way is never pleasant.

Thankfully, as a society, there are laws that provide compensation to people who experience these accidents as a result of someone else’s actions and are significantly impacted. If someone were to be (potentially) disabled for life due to such an incident, there may be a substantial compensation payout.

The idea of this compensation is not only to compensate for economic loss but to also provide a capital amount for the person’s living costs for the rest of their lives. Often that compensation will run to millions of dollars. Sounds like a lot, right?

If you receive compensation for becoming totally and permanently disabled, investing this lump sum should make it last far longer. This action will require careful planning and professional advice. Consulting with a professional on this financial decision may be in your best interest.

One effective strategy that can be used here is to make what is known as a Structured Settlement Contribution to superannuation.  You can then use your superannuation to pay you a pension.  If done correctly, all the money that your investment earns in super should be tax-free and all of the money that you draw out of super should also be tax-free. Removing tax from the equation when it comes to the money that you can draw out of your super will have a massive impact on your ability to have that money last your lifetime.

However, you need to make sure you comply with all of the rules around making a structured settlement superannuation contribution. These rules include:

  1. You will usually have to be under 67 at the time of making the contribution
  2. The contribution needs to be made within 90 days of getting the money
  3. Two doctors need to certify that you are totally and permanently disabled
  4. The payment must be compensation for personal injury where someone else was at fault or for workers compensation
  5. You must notify your super fund that it is a structured settlement contribution

The contribution will also have no impact on your pension transfer balance limit.  This means that if you make a structured settlement contribution of $2 million then you will now be able to transfer $3.7 million into a pension instead of the usual $1.7 million.

The payments are usually received after a lengthy legal process and it is probably not something that will be top of mind for the 90 days following receipt of the funds but the decision to contribute the amount to superannuation can have a lasting positive impact on your after tax income.

Consulting with a registered professional about your options regarding contributions, withdrawals and general options can give a better understanding of what you might be in a position to do.

Posted on 21 February '22, under super. No Comments.

Common Mistakes Often Made By SMSF Trustees That You Can Avoid

Involvement in an SMSF can put certain responsibilities in their trustees hands, and those who overlook important details or find themselves reported to the ATO for failing to fulfil those responsibilities may risk incurring financial, civil or criminal penalties.

As SMSFs often involve multiple members, the risk of non-compliance grows. You might be doing the right thing, but can you say the same thing about your fellow trustees?

That is why the role of the trustee should not be taken lightly as with greater control comes greater responsibility, should the administration of your SMSF go awry.

Make sure your retirement nest egg is protected by avoiding these common mistakes made by SMSF trustees.

Breaching The Sole Purpose Test

SMSFs must be maintained for the sole purpose of providing retirement benefits to your members (or for their dependents if a member dies before retirement). You will fail the test if a member gets any financial benefit through an investment, aside from increasing the return to your fund.

For example, a member’s personal use of a holiday house purchased by the fund, without making rental repayments, would breach the sole purpose test. The rules can become complex, which is why seeking professional advice may be wise. Trustees who breach the sole purpose test will lose their fund’s concessional tax treatment and could be liable for civil and criminal penalties.

Financial Assistance & Member Loans

Trustees can make the error of accessing their SMSF funds at will instead of following strict super laws. You cannot access your SMSF bank account to give financial assistance or loans to members or members’ relatives, improve your cash flow, repay debts or make personal investments. There have also been reports of withdrawals from SMSFs accidentally on mobile banking apps. Avoid ATO sanctions and keep your bank accounts separate to ensure no premature withdrawals are made from your SMSF account.

Failing To Lodge Paperwork On TIme

SMSF trustees must comply with demanding reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Your SMSF will have an annual audit. Failure to produce certain documents or make the deadline date will result in your SMSF being reported to the ATO. It is crucial to keep accurate records of all decisions and transactions should the ATO take an interest in your SMSF. A financial advisor may be helpful to take the stress out of keeping on top of your paperwork.

Not Planning For The Death Of Another Member

The death or illness of a member of your SMSF can have devastating effects on your retirement savings if you are not prepared. Dependency on one member to administer the SMSF can destabilise the fund if they pass away. Ensure that responsibilities are evenly distributed, if necessary, and that there is a clear understanding of the processes of the SMSF.

Go further than taking out life insurance policies and take the following precautions:

Posted on 31 January '22, under super. No Comments.

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