The importance of SMSF succession planning

Preparing for loss of capacity or death is vital for SMSF members. It’s important to ensure your trust deed is watertight.

There are more than 600,000 self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) in Australia, managing close to $900 billion of assets on behalf of over a million Australians.

Each SMSF’s trust deed is legally required to set out the rules for establishing and operating the SMSF including its objectives, who can be a member of the SMSF, and whether benefits can be paid as a lump sum or as an income stream.

But what happens when a member becomes incapacitated, or dies?

Has the SMSF’s trust deed been worded in a way that will make it possible to give effect to the wishes of an incapacitated or deceased member, to the extent those wishes are consistent with superannuation laws?

If you’re a member of an SMSF, it’s important to ensure that you have ticked all the right boxes when it comes to succession planning.

And, to do this, it’s worthwhile considering obtaining tailored professional advice from an SMSF specialist.

Preparing binding death benefit nominations

SMSF members generally have a degree of ability to choose who will get their residual super benefits when they die, by making and giving the SMSF’s trustee a binding death benefit nomination.

This directs the fund’s trustee to pay the benefit to either a legal personal representative or one or more eligible dependants of the member.

However, depending on the wording of your SMSF trust deed and the nomination itself, it is possible that a binding death benefit nomination given by a member will expire after just three years (or any shorter period specified in the trust deed) under Regulation 6.17A of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 (Cth). In that scenario, assuming the member is still alive, their death benefit nomination would then need to be renewed and there would be no death benefit nomination in place unless and until they do so.

But the High Court ruled last year that it is possible for a validly made binding death benefit nomination to last indefinitely if a trust deed’s wording is structured in such a way that effectively avoids the three-year automatic expiry.

This is a prime example of why it may be worthwhile getting professional advice around the wording in your trust deed covering death benefit nominations as well as your nomination form, including whether they are aligned with your preference as to how often (if at all) death benefit nominations need to be updated in order to be legally effective.

Preparing for loss of capacity or death

Another key aspect for SMSF trustees to consider and plan for is who would take control upon a member’s loss of capacity or death.

For example, problems can arise where someone wanted their super money to go to a child from a previous relationship, but where a second spouse controlling the fund was able to frustrate the wishes of the deceased.

It’s certainly worth asking how your wishes will be honoured if you lose capacity or die. Who will or could be running the fund in this situation? As there are a range of legal factors and restrictions that shape who would be eligible to operate the SMSF or make decisions on your behalf, good quality expert legal and financial advice on these matters can go a long way to avoiding inconvenience, confusion and conflict in future.

Reversionary pension nominations

SMSF trust deeds can generally specify that a superannuation income stream that a member of the SMSF is receiving will automatically transfer to an eligible dependant beneficiary previously nominated by the member upon the member’s death. This nomination is typically referred to as a reversionary pension nomination.

For some SMSF members they can be very important, particularly for people who have a high tax-free component or who are expecting a life insurance payout upon their death.

Some SMSF trust deeds are worded in a way that gives priority to a reversionary pension nomination over a binding death benefit nomination, which can lead to unexpected or unintended outcomes after a member’s death.

Reversionary beneficiary nominations are not necessarily needed or suitable for everyone with an SMSF, but for those wanting to implement them it’s important to ensure they’re permitted under the terms of the trust deed and enforceable in the future.

Getting succession planning advice

SMSF trust deeds can be complex documents, and it’s vital to ensure that yours is structured to ensure it is best placed to conform to your wishes in the event you’re incapacitated or die.

Consider giving us a call or consulting a licensed financial adviser or other relevant qualified professional who specialises in SMSF.

Source: Vanguard

Vanguard Investments Australia Ltd (ABN 72 072 881 086 / AFS Licence 227263) is the product issuer and the Operator of Vanguard Personal Investor. We have not taken your objectives, financial situation or needs into account when preparing this article so it may not be applicable to the particular situation you are considering. You should consider your objectives, financial situation or needs, and the disclosure documents for any financial product we make available before making any investment decision. Before you make any financial decision regarding Vanguard products, you should seek professional advice from a suitably qualified adviser. A copy of the Target Market Determinations (TMD) for Vanguard’s financial products can be obtained at vanguard.com.au free of charge and include a description of who the financial product is appropriate for. You should refer to the TMD before making any investment decisions. You can access our IDPS Guide, PDSs, Prospectus and TMDs at vanguard.com.au or by calling 1300 655 101. Past performance information is given for illustrative purposes only and should not be relied upon as, and is not, an indication of future performance. This article was prepared in good faith and we accept no liability for any errors or omissions.

Your guide for claiming business expenses

You can claim tax deductions for expenses you incur while running your business if they’re directly related to earning business income (also known as assessable income).

Take Rubi for example. Rubi is a sole trader who works as an IT consultant. As part of her work, she travels to deliver seminars and workshops.

Rubi follows the 3 golden rules for claiming a tax deduction when she travels for business purposes.

  1. The expense must be for her business, not for private use.
  2. If the expense is for a mix of business and private use, she can only claim the portion that is used for her business.
  3. She must have the records to prove it.

Rubi uses the myDeductions tool to store receipts of all her airfares, accommodation, public transport costs, ride-sharing fares, car hire fees and other costs such as fuel, tolls and car parking. She also records her meal costs if she’s away overnight.

Rubi also keeps a travel diary to note which expenses were for business purposes and which expenses were private, such as sight-seeing. The cost of her recent tour of the Tower of London is not included in her deductions. There are some expenses Rubi can’t claim, such as entertainment, traffic fines, and expenses related to earning non-assessable income.

As an employer, Rubi meets her superannuation and employer obligations by reporting her employees’ salaries or wages and paying any tax withheld amounts on time. This allows her to deduct the salaries, wages and super contributions she’s paid during the year.

By the time Rubi is ready to lodge her tax return, her tax agent has everything they need to verify her deductions.

Be like Rubi and perfect your record keeping to correctly claim your business expenses and make tax time easier.

To check your record keeping skills, you can use this record keeping evaluation tool.

Remember, we can help you with your tax and super.

Source: ato.gov.au August 2023
Reproduced with the permission of the Australian Tax Office. This article was originally published on https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Small-business-newsroom/General/Your-guide-for-claiming-business-expenses/.
Important:
This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account.  It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person. 
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.

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.

How super contributions and withdrawals are taxed

How much tax you pay on your super contributions and withdrawals depends on:

  • your total super amount
  • your age
  • the type of contribution or withdrawal you make

If you inherit someone’s super after they die, the person’s super fund pays you a super death benefit. You may have to pay tax on some of this benefit.

Because everyone’s situation is different, it’s always best to get advice about tax matters. Contact the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or us.

How super contributions are taxed

Money paid into your super account by your employer is taxed at 15%. So are salary-sacrificed contributions, also known as concessional contributions.

There are some exceptions to this rule:

  • If you earn $37,000 or less, the tax is paid back into your super account through the low-income super tax offset (LISTO).
  • If your income and super contributions combined are more than $250,000, you pay Division 293 tax, an extra 15%.

If you make contributions from your after-tax income — known as non-concessional contributions — you don’t pay any contributions tax.

See tax on contributions on the ATO website for more information about how much tax you’ll pay on super contributions.

To avoid paying extra tax on your super, make sure you give your super fund your Tax File Number.

How super investment earnings are taxed

Earnings on investments within your super fund are taxed at 15%. This includes interest and dividends less any tax deductions or credits.

How super withdrawals are taxed

The amount of tax you pay depends on whether you withdraw your super as:

  • a super income stream, or
  • a lump sum

Everyone’s financial situation is unique, especially when it comes to tax. Make an informed decision. We recommend you speak to us to get financial advice before you decide to withdraw your super.

Super income stream

A super income stream is when you withdraw your money as small regular payments over a long period of time.

If you’re aged 60 or over, this income is usually tax-free.

If you’re under 60, you may pay tax on your super income stream.

Lump sum withdrawals

If you’re aged 60 or over and withdraw a lump sum:

  • You don’t pay any tax when you withdraw from a taxed super fund.
  • You may pay tax if you withdraw from an untaxed super fund, such as a public sector fund.

If you’re under age 60 and withdraw a lump sum:

  • You don’t pay tax if you withdraw up to the ‘low rate threshold’, currently $230,000.
  • If you withdraw an amount above the low rate threshold, you pay 17% tax (including the Medicare levy) or your marginal tax rate, whichever is lower.

If you have not yet reached your preservation age:

  • You pay 22% (including the Medicare levy) or your marginal tax rate, whichever is lower.

See the super lump sum tax table on the ATO website for more detailed information.

When someone dies

When someone dies, their super is usually paid to their beneficiary. This is called a super death benefit.

If you’re a beneficiary, the amount of tax you pay on a death benefit depends on:

  • the tax-free and taxable components of the super
  • whether you’re a dependent for tax purposes
  • whether you take the benefit as an income stream or a lump sum

See super death benefits on the ATO website for detailed information or contact us today.

Source:
Reproduced with the permission of ASIC’s MoneySmart Team. This article was originally published at https://moneysmart.gov.au/how-super-works/tax-and-super
Important note: This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account.  It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.  Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns.
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.

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)

How to boost your super with a lump sum

If you’re lucky enough to have received a windfall, perhaps an inheritance or a retrenchment payout, your first decision will be what to do with it.

Assuming you have decided against a shopping splurge, finding the best place to invest a lump sum is all about the effect on your tax bill and how soon you will need access to the funds.

For those interested in investing their lump sum for a longer term, superannuation is one approach because of its tax benefits.

But be aware that, while super can be a tax-effective investment, there are limits on how much you can pay into your super without having to pay extra tax. These are known as contribution caps.

Different types of contributions

There are two types of super contributions you can make – concessional and non-concessional – and contribution caps apply to both.

Concessional contributions are paid into super with pre-tax money, such as the compulsory contributions made by your employer. They are taxed at a rate of 15 per cent.

Non-concessional or after-tax contributions are paid into super with income that has already been taxed. These contributions are not taxed.

So, the tax you pay depends on whether:

  • the contribution was made before or after you paid tax on it
  • you exceed the contribution caps
  • you are a high income earner (If your income and concessional contributions total more than $250,000 in a financial year, you may have to pay an extra 15 per cent tax on some or all of your super contributions.)

Investing after-tax income

There are many different types of after-tax contributions that can be made to your super including contributions your spouse may make to your fund, contributions from your after-tax income, an inheritance, a redundancy payout or the proceeds of a property sale.

Based on current rules, the annual limit for non-concessional or after-tax contributions is $110,000. You can also bring-forward two financial years’ worth of non-concessional contributions and contribute $330,000 at once but then you can’t make any further non-concessional contributions for two financial years. Note that are certain limitation on these types of contributions.

It is also useful to note that, under certain conditions, there are some types of contributions that do not count towards your cap. These include: personal injury payments, downsizer contributions from the proceeds of selling your home and the re-contribution of COVID-19 early release super amounts.

The Downsizer scheme allows the contribution of up to $300,000 from the proceeds of the sale (or part sale) from your home. You will need to be above age 55 but there is no upper age limit, the home must be in Australia, have been owned by you or your spouse for at least 10 years, the disposal must be exempt or partially exempt from capital gains tax and you have not previously used a downsizer contribution.

Giving your super a boost

A review of your super balance and some quick calculations about your projected retirement income might inspire you to give your super a boost but not everyone has access to a lump sum to invest.

A strategy that uses smaller amounts could include any amount from your take-home pay. These contributions will count towards your non-concessional or after-tax cap.

Alternatively, you add to your super from your pre-tax income using, for example, salary sacrifice. These types of concessional or pre-tax contributions attract a different contribution cap: $27,500 per year, which includes all contributions made by your employer.

If your super fund balance is less than $500,000, your limit may be higher if you did not use the full amount of your cap in earlier years. You can check your cap at ATO online services in your myGov account.

The rules for super contributions can be complex so give us a call to discuss how best to maximise your benefits while avoiding any mistakes.

Trusts and the new super tax rules

Ensuring you’ve structured your finances tax-effectively is always a concern, but with new tax rules for super on the horizon, many people with large balances are considering alternative vehicles to save for retirement.

Unsurprisingly, this has sparked a renewed interest in an old favourite – trusts.

Trusts have always been popular in Australia, with the government’s Tax Avoidance Taskforce (Trusts) estimating more than one million were in place in 2022.

Separating ownership using a trust

The popularity of trusts for business, investment and estate planning purposes is due to both their flexibility and inherent benefits, particularly when it comes to managing your tax affairs.

At their heart, trusts are simply a formal relationship where a legal entity holds property or assets on behalf of another legal entity.

This separation means the trustee legally owns the assets, but the beneficiaries of the trust (such as family members) receive the income flowing from the assets.

A common example of a trust structure is a self managed super fund (SMSF), where the fund trustee is the legal owner of the fund’s assets, and the members receive investment returns earned on assets held within the SMSF trust.

Which trust is best?

There are many different types of trusts, with the appropriate structure depending on the financial goals you’re trying to achieve.

For small businesses and families, the most common trust is a discretionary (or family) trust. These vehicles are very flexible and can be used with immediate and extended family members, family companies or even charities.

In a discretionary trust, the trustee has absolute discretion on how both the income and capital of the trust are distributed to various beneficiaries.

This gives the trustee a great deal of flexibility when it comes time to allocate income to family members paying different marginal tax rates.

Advantages of a trust structure

Discretionary trusts offer tax, asset protection, estate planning and property holding benefits.

They can also assist with the accumulation of assets for younger generations within your family and provide opportunities for the discounting of capital gains.

For small businesses and farming operations, a discretionary trust can be used to provide valuable asset protection. If your business goes bankrupt or a beneficiary is divorced, creditors will be unable to access assets or property held within the trust as it is the legal owner of the assets.

Building wealth outside super

With new tax rules for super fund balances over $3 million being introduced, trusts also provide a useful tool to consider for continued wealth accumulation.

Unlike super funds, trusts don’t have annual contribution limits, restrictions on where you can invest or borrowing limits. Money can be added and removed from the trust as necessary, providing significant financial flexibility.

Discretionary trusts can also be used with vulnerable beneficiaries who may make unwise spending decisions. The trustee can decide to provide a spendthrift child or a family member with a gambling addiction regular income, but not large capital sums.

Holding ownership of assets within a trust is useful for estate management, as the assets will not be part of a deceased estate, avoiding the possibility of a Will being challenged.

Trusts aren’t always the solution

Although trust structures provide many benefits, there are also tax issues that need to be considered. For example, any trust income not distributed to beneficiaries is taxed at the top marginal rate.

Distributions to minor children are taxed at higher rates and a trust is unable to allocate tax losses to beneficiaries, so they must remain within the trust and be carried forward.

Trusts can be expensive to set up, administer and dissolve when they are no longer needed and the trustee’s actions are restricted by the terms of the trust deed.

If a family dispute arises, running a trust can become difficult and making changes once it is established isn’t easy.

If you would like to find out more about trusts and whether one is appropriate for your business or family, call us today.

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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