Living your best life in retirement

If you’re nearing retirement age, it’s likely you’re wondering if you will have enough saved to give up work and take it easy, particularly as cost-of-living increases hit some of the basic expenses such as energy, insurance, food and health costs.

Fortunately, someone has already worked out what you might need.

The Association of Superannuation Funds in Australia (ASFA) updates its Retirement Standard every year, which provides a breakdown of expenses for two types of lifestyles: modest and comfortable.i

Based on our average life expectancy – for women it is just over 85 years and men 81 – if you are about to retire at say age 67, you will have between 14 and 18 years in retirement, on average and depending on your gender.ii

ASFA finds that a couple needs $46,944 a year to live a modest lifestyle and $72,148 to live a comfortable lifestyle. That’s equal to $902 a week and $1387 respectively. The figure is of course lower for a single person – $32,666 for a modest lifestyle ($628 a week) or $51,278 ($986) for a comfortable lifestyle.iii

What does that add up to? ASFA estimates that, for a modest lifestyle, a single person or a couple would need savings of $100,000 at retirement age, while for a modest lifestyle, a couple would need at least $690,000.iv

A modest lifestyle means being able to afford everyday expenses such as basic health insurance, communication, clothing and household goods but not going overboard. The difference between a modest and a comfortable lifestyle can be significant. For example, there is no room in a modest budget to update a kitchen or a bathroom; similarly overseas holidays are not an option.

The rule of thumb for a comfortable retirement is an estimated 70 per cent of your current annual income.v (The reason you need less is that you no longer need to commute to work and you don’t need to buy work clothes.)

Building your nest egg

So how can you build up a sufficient nest egg to provide for a good life in retirement? There are three main sources: superannuation, pension and investments/savings. Superannuation has the key advantage that the money in your pension is tax free in retirement.

Your superannuation pension can be augmented with the government’s Aged Pension either from the moment you retire or later when your original nest egg diminishes.

Your income and assets will be taken into account if you apply for the Age Pension but even if you receive a pension from your super fund, you may still be eligible for a part Age Pension. You may also be eligible for rent assistance and a Health Care Card, which provides concessions on medicines.vi

Money keeps growing

It’s also important to remember that the amount you accumulate up to retirement will still be generating an income, whether its rentals from investment properties or merely the growth in the value of your share investments and the accumulation of money from any dividends paid.

You can also continue to add to your superannuation by, for instance, selling your family home and downsizing, as long as you have lived in the home for more than 10 years.

If you are single, $300,000 can go into your super when you downsize and $600,000 if you are a couple. This figure is independent of any other superannuation caps.vii

Planning for a good life in retirement often require just that – planning. If you would like to discuss how retirement will work for you, then give us a call.

Retirement Standard – Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia
ii Life expectancy, 2020 – 2022 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)
iii https://www.superannuation.asn.au/media-release/retiree-budgets-continue-to-face-significant-cost-pressures
iv https://www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard/
https://www.gesb.wa.gov.au/members/retirement/how-retirement-works/cost-of-living-in-retirement
vi Assets test for Age Pension – Age Pension – Services Australia
vii Downsizer super contributions | Australian Taxation Office (ato.gov.au)

Understanding the new $3m super tax

The much-debated tax on superannuation balances over $3 million is inching closer and those who may be affected should ensure they have considered the implications.

Although it is not yet law, the Division 296 tax should be taken into account when it comes to investment strategy and planning, particularly in relation to any end-of-financial-year contributions into super.

Tax for higher account balances

The new tax follows a Federal Government announcement it intended to reduce the tax concessions provided to super fund members with account balances exceeding $3 million.

Once the legislation passes through Parliament and receives Royal Assent, Division 296 will take effect from 1 July 2025. Division 296 legislation imposes an additional 15 per cent tax (on top of the existing 15 per cent) on investment earnings of a super account where your total super balance exceeds $3 million at the end of the financial year.i

The extra 15 per cent is only applied to the amount that exceeds $3 million.

Given the complexity of the new rules, it is important to seek professional advice so you can make informed decisions.

How the new rules work

A crucial part of the new legislation is the Adjusted Total Super Balance (ATSB), which determines whether you sit above or below the $3 million threshold.

When assessing your ATSB, the ATO will consider the market value of assets regardless of whether or not this value has been realised, creating a significant impact if your super fund holds property or speculative assets. The legislation also introduces a new formula for calculating your ATSB for Division 296 purposes.

The legislation outlines how deemed earnings will be apportioned and taxed, based on the amount of your account balance over the $3 million threshold.

Negative earnings in a year where your balance is greater than $3 million may be carried forward to a future financial year to reduce Division 296 liabilities. If you are liable for Division 296 tax, you can choose to pay the liability personally or request payment from your super fund.

Strategic rethink may be needed

For many fund members, superannuation remains an attractive investment strategy due to its favourable tax treatment.ii

But those with higher account balances need to understand the potential effect of the Division 296 tax. For example, given the new rules, you may need to consider whether high-growth assets should automatically be held inside super.

Holding long-term investments that may be more difficult to liquidate, such as property, within super may be less attractive in some cases, because the new rules create the potential to be taxed on a gain that is never realised. This could occur where the value of an asset increases during a financial year but drops in value by the time it is actually sold.

For some, holding commercial property assets (such as your business premises) within your SMSF may be less attractive.

It will also be important to balance asset protection against tax effectiveness. For some people, the asset protection provided by the super system may outweigh the tax benefits of other investment vehicles, such as a family trust.

Division 296 will require more frequent and detailed asset valuations, so you will need to balance this administrative burden with the tax benefits of super.

Estate planning implications

Your estate planning will also need to be revisited once Division 296 is law.

The tax rules for super death benefits are complex and should be carefully reviewed to ensure you don’t leave an unnecessary tax bill for your beneficiaries.

If you still have many years to go before retirement and hold high-growth assets in your fund, you will need to closely monitor your super balance.

If you want to learn more about how Division 296 tax could affect your super savings, contact our office today.

https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-09/c2023-443986-em.pdf
ii https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/super-for-individuals-and-families/super/growing-and-keeping-track-of-your-super/caps-limits-and-tax-on-super-contributions/understanding-concessional-and-non-concessional-contributions

SMSFs: What happens if you exceed your super caps

The rules around making some types of super contributions have been relaxed in recent years, so it’s worth exploring the different opportunities available to you before making a large contribution.i

What are contribution caps?

Given the tax-effective environment of Australia’s super system, there are annual limits on how much you can contribute each financial year.

The two main types of contributions are concessional (before-tax) and non-concessional (after-tax) contributions.

Concessional contributions include employer Super Guarantee contributions, salary sacrifice and personal tax-deductible contributions, with the general contributions cap for 2023-24 being $27,500. In some situations, you may be permitted to contribute more if you have unused cap amounts from previous financial years.

If you’re a SMSF member, you may be able to make a concessional contribution in one financial year and have it count towards your concessional cap in the following financial year.

Non-concessional contributions cap

If you use after-tax money to make a super contribution, this is classes as a non-concessional contribution and there is no tax payable when the contribution is paid into your super account.

The general non-concessional contributions cap in 2023-24 is $110,000 provided you meet all the eligibility criteria, such as your Total Super Balance being below your personal limit. Your personal cap may be different.

If you’re age 55 or older, the once-only downsizer contribution cap is $300,000 per person ($600,000 for a couple). These contributions from the sale of your main residence don’t count towards your annual non-concessional cap.

Exceeding your contribution caps

There are different rules for super contributions that exceed the annual caps, depending on the type of contribution.

If you go over the annual concessional cap, your contribution is counted as personal assessable income and taxed at your marginal tax rate, with a 15 per cent tax offset to reflect the tax already paid by your super fund. Your increased assessable income may also affect any Medicare levy, Centrelink benefits and child support obligations.

The excess contributions can be withdrawn from your super fund, but if you choose not to withdraw them, the excess is counted towards your non-concessional contributions cap.

If you don’t or can’t elect to release excess contributions, you could end up paying up to 94 per cent in tax.ii

Exceed your non-concessional cap

Contributions exceeding your annual non-concessional (after-tax) cap are taxed at 45 per cent plus the 2 per cent Medicare levy. This is in addition to the tax already paid on this money.

Before the ATO applies this tax, you are given the opportunity to withdraw the excess non-concessional contributions, plus a notional amount to reflect the investment earnings.

You pay tax on the notional earnings just like personal income, less a 15 per cent offset.

Withdrawing excess contributions

Like most things to do with tax and super, the process for withdrawing excess contributions is fiddly.

If you have an excess concessional contribution, the ATO sends you a determination letter with details of what you need to do, plus an income tax notice of assessment.

You have 60 days to decide whether to have the excess concessional contribution refunded by the super fund and tax deducted by the ATO, or to pay the tax personally and leave the contribution in your account.

Refunding excess non-concessional contributions

For excess non-concessional contributions, the ATO assumes you wish to have your excess contributions and notional earnings refunded in order to avoid paying 47 per cent on them.

The default process is the ATO automatically issues a release authority to your fund and directs it to deduct the additional tax owing and return the leftover amount to you.

If you wish to nominate a specific fund from which the refund should be paid, or leave the excess in your account and pay the tax personally, you must make an election within 60 days of the initial notice.

Call us today to assess how the super contribution caps may affect you.

https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/super-for-individuals-and-families/super/growing-and-keeping-track-of-your-super/caps-limits-and-tax-on-super-contributions/restrictions-on-voluntary-contributions
ii https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/super-for-individuals-and-families/super/growing-and-keeping-track-of-your-super/caps-limits-and-tax-on-super-contributions/concessional-contributions-cap

Financial wellbeing is a gift worth giving yourself

The festive season is a time of joy and celebration but, for some, it can also lead to a financial hangover in the New Year.

Overspending on gifts, parties, and decorations can quickly add-up, leaving us with unwanted debt in the New Year.

In 2022, Australians spent more than $66.7 billion during the pre-Christmas sales in preparation for the festive season. The rising cost of goods and services mean that even though many are trying to curb their spending, it is expected that we will spend a little extra this year.

5 ways to rein in Christmas spending

  1. Create a Christmas budget – A budget is an effective way of controlling spending. It may not sound like fun, but it helps you to understand what you would like to spend and how much debt you are prepared to live with. List all of the costs you can think of (gifts, decorations, food, travel and entertainment), then set limits for each category and stick to them diligently. Consider using budgeting apps or spreadsheets to track your expenses and ensure you stay on track.
  2. Embrace the spirit of giving – Instead of buying individual gifts for every family member or friend, organise a Kris Kringle or Secret Santa gift exchange. This not only reduces the financial burden for everyone, but it adds an element of surprise and excitement to the holiday festivities.
  3. Take advantage of sales and discounts – Begin your Christmas shopping early to take advantage of sales and discounts. Stockpiling non-perishable food items and other essentials before prices rise closer to Christmas can deliver big savings.
  4. Online shopping – You can often find better prices by shopping around online and various third-party websites offer cash back or rewards not available in store.
  5. DIY and personalised gifts – Tap into your creativity by making your own gifts. Handmade gifts can be a welcome and thoughtful way of giving. Consider creating homemade cards, photo albums, or baking treats for loved ones.

Tackle any debt now

With many household budgets feeling the pinch due to rising housing, power, petrol and other costs, debts may already be increasing. But if you are feeling burdened with debt, don’t decide to leave it until after Christmas. The time to tackle it is now before it gets out of hand.

One option to consider, is to consolidate your high interest debts into a single more manageable loan. This approach can simplify repayments and potentially reduce interest rates, making it easier to eliminate debt over time. But it is important to do your calculations carefully to make sure it is worthwhile for you and then to be vigilant about watching spending.

Another option is to take a cold, hard look at your expenses. Is there something that can be cut back, and that money diverted to repaying debt? Any reduction of your debt load will help, no matter how small. Some people like to implement the snowball method in tackling their debts: while continuing to make the minimum repayments on all your debts you pay a little extra on the smallest debt to pay it off faster. Getting rid of debts can help to inspire you to continue.

Taking control of Christmas spending and debt is crucial for starting the New Year on a positive financial note. So, start planning early, know what you can afford to spend and prioritise your financial wellbeing for a debt-free and stress-free holiday season.

If you are struggling with post-Christmas debt or need assistance to manage your finances, we are here to help. Contact our team of financial experts today to discuss strategies to regain control of your financial future. Make this Christmas season a time of joy and financial empowerment.

Pre-Christmas spending forecast to tread water as uncertainty looms for discretionary retailers | Australian Retailers Association

How a super recontribution strategy could improve your tax position

Withdrawing part of your superannuation fund balance then paying it back into the account, known as a recontribution strategy, may sound a little strange but it could deliver a number of benefits including reducing tax and helping to manage super balances between you and your spouse.

Your super is made up of tax-free and taxable components. The tax-free part generally consists of contributions on which you have already paid tax, such as your non-concessional contributions.

When this component is withdrawn or paid to an eligible beneficiary, there is no tax payable.

The taxable component generally consists of your concessional contributions, such as any salary sacrifice contributions or the Super Guarantee contributions your employers have made on your behalf.

You may need to pay tax on your taxable contributions depending on your age when you withdraw it, or if you leave it to a beneficiary who the tax laws consider is a non-tax dependant.

How recontribution strategies work

The main reason for implementing a recontribution strategy is to reduce the taxable component of your super and increase the tax-free component.

To do this, you withdraw a lump sum from your super account and pay any required tax on the withdrawal.

You then recontribute the money back into your account as a non-concessional contribution. If you withdraw this money from your account at a later date, you don’t pay any tax on it as your contribution was made from after-tax money.

The recontribution doesn’t necessarily have to be into your own super account. It can be contributed into your spouse’s super account, provided they meet the contribution rules.

To use a recontribution strategy you must be eligible to both withdraw a lump sum and recontribute the money into your account. In most cases this means you must be aged 59 to 74 and retired or have met a condition of release under the super rules.

Any recontribution into your account is still subject to the current contribution rules, your Total Super Balance and the annual contribution caps.

Benefits for your non-tax dependants

Recontributing your money into your super account may have valuable benefits when your super death benefit is paid to your beneficiaries.

A recontribution strategy is particularly important if the beneficiaries you have nominated to receive your death benefit are considered non-dependants for tax purposes. (The definition of a dependant is different for super and tax purposes.)

Recontribution strategies can be very helpful for estate planning, particularly if you intend to leave part of your super death benefit to someone who the tax law considers a non-tax dependant, such as an adult child.

Otherwise, when the taxable component is paid to them, they will pay a significant amount of the death benefit in tax. (Your spouse or any dependants aged under 18 are not required to pay tax on the payment.)

Some non-tax dependants face a tax rate of 32 per cent (including the Medicare levy) on a super death benefit, so a strategy to reduce the amount liable for this tax rate can be worthwhile.

By implementing a recontribution strategy to reduce the taxable component of your super benefit, you may be able to decrease – or even eliminate – the tax your non-tax dependant beneficiaries are required to pay.

Watch the contribution and withdrawal rules

Our retirement system has lots of complex tax and super rules governing how much you can put into super and when and how much you can withdraw.

Before you start a recontribution strategy, you need to check you will meet the eligibility rules both to withdraw the money and contribute it back into your super account.

If you would like more information about how a recontribution strategy could help your non-dependants save tax, give our office a call today.

Money saving tips for travel

Travelling cheaply needn’t mean you miss out. Find out the best ways to save big on your overseas holiday plans, and make the most of every dollar.

Why you should budget for your overseas holiday

Most of us love to travel, but not many can afford to travel as often as we’d like. A trip to Europe or the US might seem like it’s out of reach, but there are ways to rein in your travelling expenses and get to the places you love, more often.

Travelling on a budget doesn’t have to mean that you miss out. If you plan ahead, work out a budget (and stick to it), you can have a better, longer – and cheaper – holiday.

You may also want to consider our savings accounts and term deposit account which can earn interest against your deposits to help you get to your holiday savings goal.

Here are ten tips on how you can save money on your travels – and have a cheaper, better, longer holiday.

1. Fly for less

One of the few downsides to living in Australia is that you’re miles from anywhere. Getting much beyond Bali will cost you, but there are ways to reduce flight costs.

2. Avoid peak holiday times

Travelling at the height of the European summer, for example, not only costs more, it’ll mean half your holiday is spent in a queue.

3. Compare flights as well as airlines

Remember, the cost of a flight can vary a lot, depending on when and how you purchase it.

Check out flight comparison websites to get a good deal. If you do book through one of these sites, be sure to read the small print. Their change or cancellation policies might not be as flexible as you need and could cost you more than you save.

4. Find an inexpensive bed

Halve your accommodation costs and you might be able to travel for twice as long.

5. Consider homestays

Go into this with the right attitude—be generous and ready to share—and you could end up with a free roof over your head, a tour guide, and a lifelong friend all wrapped up in one.

6. Check out a house swap website

You’ll be surprised to know how many people from Tuscany are eager for a holiday in Tasmania.

If you’re a bit more adventurous or love the outdoors, try backpacking, (no longer just for the young) or camping.

7. Go somewhere, not so obvious

Paris. New York. London.

Of course, the great world cities will always be magnetic places, but there’s a whole world out there. How about Marseille? Portland? Manchester? Belo Horizonte? Naples?

8. Get off the beaten track

It’s quieter, cheaper, and often more ‘authentic’. So long as you don’t tell too many people.

9. Eat like a local

Your greatest cost after accommodation will be food. Take the opportunity to sample the local cuisine – and cook when you can.

10. Do your research before you leave home 

If you have a smartphone, get a good, cheap mobile data plan. Check out the public transport, perhaps download the transport apps for the cities you’re travelling to. Oh, and a free wi-fi finder app also might be worth getting.

Source: NAB

Reproduced with permission of National Australia Bank (‘NAB’). This article was originally published at https://www.nab.com.au/personal/life-moments/travel/money-saving-tips

National Australia Bank Limited. ABN 12 004 044 937 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 230686. The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only. Any advice contained in this article has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any advice on this website, NAB recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances.

© 2022 National Australia Bank Limited (“NAB”). All rights reserved.

Important:
Any information provided by the author detailed above is separate and external to our business and our Licensee. Neither our business nor our Licensee takes any responsibility for any action or any service provided by the author. Any links have been provided with permission for information purposes only and will take you to external websites, which are not connected to our company in any way. Note: Our company does not endorse and is not responsible for the accuracy of the contents/information contained within the linked site(s) accessible from this page.

Market movements & review video – October 2023

Stay up to date with what’s happened in Australian markets over the past month.

Household wealth has grown for the third quarter in a row, rising by 2.6% in the June quarter, pushed up by rising house prices and increases in super balances.

Should I buy insurance through my super?

While we all hope for good health, the reality is that some of us may struggle at times with sickness or injury. And that may affect your family’s financial wellbeing.

Different types of life insurance or personal insurance can provide an income when you’re unable earn, or a lump sum to protect your loved ones if the worst happens.

Insurance products such as life insurance and total and permanent disability (TPD) cover are available through your superannuation fund or directly through an insurance company. There are also other products not usually offered by super funds such as accidental death and injury insurance, and critical illness or trauma cover.

Almost 10 million Australians have at least one type of insurance (life, TPD or income protection) provided through superannuation.i

Check what your fund offers

Super funds usually provide three types of personal insurance. These include:

  • Life insurance or death cover provides a lump sum payment to your beneficiaries in the event of your death.
  • Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) pays a lump sum if you become totally and permanently disabled because of illness or injury and it prevents you from working.
  • Income Protection pays a regular income for an agreed period if you are unable to work because of illness or injury.

While these insurance products can provide valuable protection, it’s essential to be aware of circumstances where coverage might not apply. For example, super funds will cancel insurance on inactive super accounts that haven’t received contributions for at least 16 months.ii Some funds may also cancel insurance if your balance is too low, usually under $6000. Automatic insurance coverage will not be provided if you’re a new super fund member aged under 25.

Should you insure through super?

Using your super fund to buy personal insurance has advantages and disadvantages so it’s a good idea to review how they might affect you.

On the plus side

  • Cost-effective: Insurance through super can be more cost-effective because the premiums are deducted from your super balance, reducing the impact on your day-to-day cash flow.
  • Automatic inclusion: Many super funds automatically provide insurance cover without requiring medical checks or extensive paperwork.
  • Tax benefits: Some contributions made to your super for insurance purposes may be tax-deductible, providing potential tax benefits.

Think about possible downsides

  • Limited flexibility: Super funds can only offer a standard set of insurance options, which may not fully align with your needs.
  • Reduced retirement savings: Paying insurance premiums from your super balance means less money invested for your retirement, potentially impacting your final payout.
  • Coverage gaps: Depending solely on your super fund’s insurance might leave you with coverage gaps, as the default options may not cover all your unique circumstances.
  • Possible tax issues: Be aware that some lump sum payments may be taxed at the highest marginal rate if the beneficiary isn’t your dependent.

Don’t forget the life admin

Whether you decide to buy insurance through your super fund or not, it is important to regularly review your insurance coverage to make sure they reflect your current life stage and to make sure you are not paying unnecessary premiums if you have more than one super fund.

Insurance within super can be a valuable safety net, providing crucial financial support to you and your loved ones. Understanding the types of coverage offered, the pros and cons of insuring inside super and the need for regular reviews are essential steps to make the most of this benefit. If you would like to discuss your insurance options, give us a call.

i The future of insurance through superannuation, Deloitte and ASFA, 2022 1051554 Insurance through superannuation.indd
ii Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Act 2019, No. 16, 2019 Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Act 2019 (legislation.gov.au)

Small businesses and SMSFs: keep an eye on the rules

As digital tools continually evolve, it is more important than ever to make sure you understand your tax obligations and comply with them. The Australian Taxation Office has been expanding and improving its data matching programs. Data matching compares data from a range of private and government organisations with the information you have provided to the ATO.

Today there are some 26 different data matching programs covering a wealth of transactions including various insurances (health, landlord, income protection); electoral rolls, bank accounts and credit cards, real estate, online sales platforms, international travel and crypto assets. So, if you leave out income from your tax return or inflate deductions, your chances of getting caught are much higher.

We take a look at some of the key areas to be mindful of when preparing your tax return this year.

Investment properties

The ATO says that, while 87 per cent of taxpayers who own rental properties use a registered tax agent to lodge their return, a review has found that nine in ten rental property owners are getting their returns wrong. It is crucial that you provide us the right information to prepare your return correctly because you are responsible for what you include in your tax return, even when using an agent.i

For example, the new landlord insurance data-matching program provides information about any insurance payouts that might have been made during the year. These must be reported as income.

Along with the new landlord insurance data matching program, a review of investment loan data will also get underway. We can guide you to ensure we are capturing all the relevant information to submit a complete tax return.

Side hustles

The ATO is also looking into the income earned from side hustles or the sharing economy.

It is now requiring platforms that provide taxi services and short-term accommodation, such as Uber and Airbnb, to report their data. All other electronic distribution platforms will have to begin reporting their data to the ATO from 1 July 2024.

The ATO says the data will give it a clear picture of the people earning income on the platforms and will be matched against their tax returns and activity statements.

Small business obligations

Businesses are also under growing ATO scrutiny using a combination of sophisticated data matching and a requirement for further reporting.

The Single Touch Payroll (STP) program, first introduced five years ago, underwent some major changes last year, known as STP phase 2. Now, all businesses are required to use STP each time they pay their employees to report salaries, amounts withheld and superannuation guarantee liability information.

The ATO recommends you discuss your current payroll processes with your tax or payroll provider to make sure you are complying with Phase 2 reporting. “If you don’t have a tax or BAS agent, consider engaging one,” the ATO says.ii

And, in a move to ensure employees receive their super on time, the Federal Government will introduce what it calls ‘payday super’.

From 1 July 2024, all employers will be required to pay the superannuation guarantee amount to their workers’ super funds on each payday rather than quarterly as is currently the case.

Self managed super funds

When it comes to self managed superannuation funds, tax and regulatory performance is generally strong, according to the ATO.

Nonetheless it is a massive sector providing more than 1.1 million people with their retirement income. With an estimated total asset value of $868 billion, it is not far behind the industry funds sector, which holds just over $1 trillion in assets.

The SMSF sector’s importance and value to individuals brings it under close attention from the ATO, which is scaling up its compliance activities because it is seeing indicators of “heightened risk” that put retirement savings at risk or take unfair advantage of the favourable tax environment.iii

In particular, the ATO is chasing down fraud and investment scams, illegal early access to super funds by members and failure to lodge annual SMSF returns.

With increasing ATO focus on taxpayers and businesses to comply with their obligations, we are here to guide you through the changing rules and regulations and answer any questions.

https://www.ato.gov.au/Media-centre/Media-releases/ATO-expands-data-matching-to-ensure-fair-play/
ii 
https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Single-Touch-Payroll/Expanding-Single-Touch-Payroll-(Phase-2)/Employer-STP-Phase-2-checklist/
iii 
https://www.ato.gov.au/Media-centre/Speeches/Other/SMSF-compliance—What-s-on-the-regulator-s-radar-/

Why superannuation fund fees matter

The fees you pay on your super could have a material impact on how you retire, which is why it’s important to understand how they work.

A quick internet search of the term “super fees” turned up other questions people ask, including “what fees are charged on superannuation?”, “do all super (funds) have fees?” and “how do you calculate super fees?”.

While highly unscientific, this little experiment illustrates an issue that many Australians grapple with when it comes to trying to understand what fees they are charged on their superannuation investments.

But before we break down the various aspects of fees that you should be aware of, perhaps the more vital point to understand here is why fees matter in the first place.

The short answer is that the fees you pay on your super could have a material impact on how you retire. Analysis by the Productivity Commission found that an increase in fees of just 0.5 per cent can cost a typical full-time worker around 12 per cent of their super balance – or $100,000 – by the time they reach retirement. It is not an insignificant amount and given that it is one of the largest assets you will have in your lifetime, it is really important to understand exactly what you are paying for.

Types of fees

There are different types of fees that make up the overall fee you pay but generally, your total fees comprise of an administration fee, an investment fee and a transaction fee. Another fee that you should be aware of are the costs you incur when you make a contribution to your account, switch between investment options and make a withdrawal. These are costs typically associated with buy/sell spreads incurred for the buying or selling of underlying investments and depending on the fund, are usually deducted from your returns. And while this is not a fee, do note that there are tax implications to consider when making an additional contribution, particularly if you’ve exceeded your concessional limit.

One way of checking what you currently pay is by taking a look at the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) of your super fund, or by checking your annual statement. You can also use the ATO’s YourSuper comparison tool to compare the fees you’re currently paying against other funds, or you can call us on |PHONE|.

Another ‘fee’ or cost to consider is that of insurance premiums, which are typically deducted from your super balance. Most funds automatically provide you with life cover (also known as death cover) and total permanent disability (TPD) while it is an opt-in for others. Some funds also automatically provide income protection insurance while others don’t. Always consider what you need before deciding to keep or cancel your insurance.

Last but not least, another fee you could be charged relates to advice. Your super fund could provide specific types of financial advice if you ask for it, and charge a fee if certain criteria for the provision of advice are met. This fee is non-ongoing (ie charged only when you require the service) and your consent is required before it is deducted.

Comparing like for like

When comparing fees between super funds, it is also important to understand if you are comparing products in the same category. For instance, just like comparing the cost of a bicycle and the cost of a motorcycle would not make sense even though both are vehicles that can get you from point A to point B, comparing fees of products from different categories would not be meaningful.

If you are currently invested in an Australian equities fund, comparing the fees you’re paying with another fund’s cash investment option is unlikely to be useful. Rather, assessing fees between funds that have similar investment styles and asset allocation mixes would be closer to a like for like comparison.

Is it right for you?

While knowing how much you’re paying for a fund is important, knowing what you’re paying for and whether it is right for you is even more so. While the fees of a fund mostly invested in equities (typically labelled a High Growth fund) might be low, the risks of investing in said fund might be inappropriate for a member looking to balance income and capital growth because they are transitioning into or already in retirement. Therefore, the discussion around low fees for such a product would likely be moot for this member.

Similarly, looking at the fees of a single sector fund may be a good starting point but if your investment goals and strategy involves investing in a mix of asset classes, then don’t overlook the multiple sets of fees that are incurred when investing in multiple single sector options.

Every dollar contributed to your super is money you’ve worked hard for – that, and the fact that it will likely constitute a large component of your overall wealth and a critical component in funding your retirement, is reason enough to pay more attention to the what, how and whys of super fund fees.

Talk to us to find out more about your superannuation.

Source: Vanguard

Reproduced with permission of Vanguard Investments Australia Ltd

Vanguard Investments Australia Ltd (ABN 72 072 881 086 / AFS Licence 227263) is the product issuer. We have not taken yours and your clients’ circumstances into account when preparing this material so it may not be applicable to the particular situation you are considering. You should consider your circumstances and our Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or Prospectus before making any investment decision. You can access our PDS or Prospectus online or by calling us. This material was prepared in good faith and we accept no liability for any errors or omissions. Past performance is not an indication of future performance.

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