Let’s talk about Self-Managed Superannuation Funds!
Self-Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSF) can be defined as funds which consist of four or less members and are regulated by the ATO, which gives its members the ability to directly hold and control their retirement assets. All members within SMSF’s must be trustees, who are responsible for the management and investment of the superannuation assets for the fund’s members. As of June 2017, there were a total of 597,000 SMSF’s in Australia, which controlled approximately 30% of all superannuation assets.
There are several characteristics that all SMSF’s share (except single member funds):
- The fund has four members or less (from 1 July 2019, SMSF’s will be able to have 6 members)
- All individual members are trustees, and all trustees are individual members
- In the case of a corporate trustee, all members must be directors of the trustee company, and each director must be a member of the fund
- Trustees cannot receive any remuneration for fulfilling his or her duties as a trustee of the fund
- No member is an employee of another member, except if they are related
When it comes to SMSF’s, they have numerous advantages compared to other types of superannuation funds:
- You have full control over all investment decisions. The fund also has much more flexibility and choice when it comes to where it can invest in (direct shares, direct property, new listed companies, unlisted trusts, term deposits etc.) with members being able to transfer their personal listed share holdings into the SMSF’s (would need to check capital gain implications of doing this).
- Funds can also achieve significant cost savings as the fund grows, unlike many industry funds where costs are set as a percentage of the asset size.
- SMSF’s can borrow under limited circumstances, while taking full advantage of tax concessions within the fund. Members can also include insurance in their SMSF’s, where premiums paid will be deductible to the fund. Additionally, it can be easier to adopt estate planning strategies and succession planning within an SMSF.
- When it comes to the taxation of SMSF’s, funds in the accumulation phase are taxed at a rate of 15%, or 10% on capital gains when selling assets held for more than 12 months. When the fund is in pension phase, the tax rate is nil on all income and capital gains for that pension account (subject to the $1.6 million transfer balance cap). SMSF’s are also able to get imputation credits refunded as their rate of tax (0% or 15%) is below the franking credit rate of 30%.*
SMSF trustees must always ensure they meet all the main rules governing them, with the sole purpose of the fund being to save for the members’ retirement. Furthermore, trustees are ultimately responsible for the management, admin and compliance requirements of the fund. Some/all of these tasks can be outsourced to professionals.
*Please note that the Labor Party has indicated that if they are elected, they will deny refunds on franking credits for those not receiving the age pension.