Archive for the ‘Superannuation’ Category

Thinking about setting up an SMSF?

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

SMSFs can be a great option for building retirement savings, but they may not be suitable for everyone. Before you jump in, make sure you understand the differences between SMSFs and other types of funds to help you make an informed decision. Here are a few issues to consider.

Management
While public offer funds are managed by professional licensed trustees, for SMSFs the management responsibility lies with the members. Every SMSF member must be a trustee of the fund (or, if the trustee is a company, a director of that company). This is an advantage if you want full control over how your super is invested and managed, but it means the members are responsible for complying with all superannuation laws and regulations – and administrative penalties can apply for non-compliance.

Costs
Fees charged by public offer funds vary, but they are generally charged as a percentage of the member’s account balance. Therefore, the higher your balance, the more fees you’ll pay.
SMSF costs tend to be more fixed. As well as paying establishment costs and an annual supervisory levy, SMSFs must hire an independent auditor annually. Most SMSFs also need professional assistance, such as accounting services, financial advice, administration services and asset valuations. An SMSF can sometimes be more expensive than a public offer fund.

Investment flexibility
A major benefit of SMSFs is that the member-trustees have full control over investment choices. This means you can invest in specific assets, including direct property, that wouldn’t be possible in a public offer fund. SMSFs can also take advantage of gearing strategies by borrowing to buy property or even shares through a special “limited recourse” borrowing arrangement. However, with control comes responsibility. SMSF trustees must create and regularly update an “investment strategy” that specifically addresses things like risk, liquidity and diversification.

TIP: There are other important considerations for SMSFs, including decisions about insurance and arrangements for dealing with any disagreements between trustees. It’s important to ensure you have the whole picture and good advice before getting an SMSF started.

Salary sacrificing loopholes: are you receiving your full benefits?

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

Most workers understand that their employer must make compulsory super guarantee (SG) contributions of 9.5% of their salary and wages. However, things can get a little tricky when you choose to salary sacrifice.
Under current laws, employees who sacrifice some of their salary in return for additional super contributions may end up receiving less than they expected because of two legal loopholes. Employers may:
• count the salary sacrifice contributions towards satisfying their obligation to make minimum SG contributions of 9.5%; or
• calculate their 9.5% contributions liability based on the employee’s salary after deducting sacrificed amounts, rather than the pre-sacrifice salary.
Proposed new laws will close the loopholes by requiring employers to pay compulsory SG contributions at 9.5% of the pre-sacrifice amount of salary (that is, the salary actually paid to the employee plus any sacrificed salary). Further, any salary sacrifice contributions will not count towards the compulsory SG contributions. If passed, the new laws will apply to quarters beginning on or after 1 July 2020.

Compassionate release of super only available in limited cases

Friday, September 13th, 2019

The ATO has recently seen a significant increase in queries about compassionate release of super (CRS). In most cases, the people concerned were ineligible because they were looking to use their super to pay for general expenses.
CRS is an option only for very specific unpaid expenses such as medical treatment and transport costs, palliative care costs, loan payments to prevent the loss of your home, the costs of home or vehicle modifications related to a severe disability and expenses associated a dependant’s death.
TIP: Any amounts released early on compassionate grounds are paid and taxed as normal super lump sums.

ATO superannuation focus areas

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Lost super

As at July 2019, the ATO held 5.39 million super accounts worth $3.98 billion. It will aim to reunite $473 million with 485,000 fund members using the new Protecting Your Super measures.
TIP: You can find out about your lost or unclaimed super through ATO Online via myGov.

Pension cap indexation

The pension transfer balance cap (TBC) of $1.6 million could increase on 1 July 2020 or 1 July 2021, depending on movement in the consumer price index (CPI). The general TBC is indexed in increments of $100,000 when the indexation rate reaches prescribed figures (calculated using a formula set out in Australian tax law). Once indexation happens, there will no longer be a single TBC that applies to all super members with a retirement phase income stream. Instead, there could be a personal TBC for each member, depending on their individual situation and arrangements.

Super downsizer contributions reach $1 billion: Minister

Monday, August 12th, 2019

The Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, has announced that older Australians downsizing from their family homes have contributed $1 billion to their superannuation funds. The downsizer measure, which commenced on 1 July 2018, allows older Australians choosing to sell their home and downsize or move from homes that no longer meet their needs, to contribute the proceeds from the sale of their home into superannuation up to $300,000.

Issues for businesses

Monday, June 24th, 2019

Lower company tax rate

From 1 July 2016, the income tax rate applicable to qualifying companies has reduced to 27.5%. For the year ending 30 June 2019, this lower tax rate now applies for companies with aggregated turnover of up to $50 million, as long as they satisfy the “passive income test”.

Small business restructure rollover relief

Small businesses (<$10 million turnover threshold) have access to the small business restructure relief, which allows eligible taxpayers to transfer assets between related entities, including companies, trusts and individuals, without any income tax or CGT consequences. While this rollover can be very beneficial to a small business, and can lead to substantial tax savings, the eligibility rules can be complex, so care is needed.

Super guarantee contributions
The rate for super contributions paid by employers on behalf of their employees under the super guarantee for the year ended 30 June 2019 is 9.5%.
If you’re an employer, you must make super guarantee contributions for your employees quarterly, within 28 days after the end of each quarter (September, December, March and June).
TIP: Although the June 2019 quarter super guarantee contribution doesn’t have to be paid until 28 July 2018, it’s worth considering an early payment – you can only claim deductions on this year’s return for contributions that employees’ super funds receive by 30 June 2019.

Issues for individuals

Monday, June 24th, 2019

Deduct work-related expenses

People over claiming deductions for work-related expenses like vehicles, travel, internet and mobile phones and self-education are on the ATO’s hit list again this year. There are three main rules when it comes to work-related claims:
• You can only claim a deduction for money you have actually spent (and that your employer hasn’t reimbursed).
• The expense must be directly related to earning your work income.
• You must have a record to prove the expense.
Deductions are not allowed for private expenses (e.g. travel from home to work that’s not required to transport bulky equipment) or reimbursed expenses (e.g. for the cost of meals, accommodation and travel). And although you don’t need to include records like receipts with your tax return, the ATO can deny your claim – and penalties may apply – if you can’t produce the evidence when asked.
TIP: The ATO now uses real-time data to compare deductions across similar occupations and income brackets, so it can quickly identify higher-than-expected or unusual claims.

Don’t forget sharing economy income
Money that you earn from “gig” jobs through platforms like Uber, Air tasker and Airbnb, such as transporting passengers or renting out a room or house, counts as your assessable income. This means you must declare it on your tax return.
Depending on your gig activities and expenses, you may also be able to claim deductions related to this type of income, but it’s important to keep evidence to support your claims.

Superannuation contributions and changes
Both employees and self-employed individuals can claim a tax deduction annually (maximum $25,000) for personal superannuation contributions, provided the super fund has physically received the contribution by 30 June 2019 and the individual provides their fund with a “notice of intention to claim” document.
Important to note!
New rules mean that insurance coverage will be cancelled on “inactive” superannuation accounts from 1 July 2019, unless the fund member informs the fund in writing that they want to keep the insurance. Also, where an inactive account has a low balance (under $6,000) the fund will have to send that super to the ATO for consolidation and safekeeping.
If you haven’t made contributions or rolled over your super in the past 16 months, no matter what your balance, it’s important to check in with your fund now to keep your account active and maintain the insurance you want.
TIP: The new law also bans super funds from charging exit fees when you want to leave the fund, which should make it easier to change and consolidate your super accounts when you need to.

ATO reminds SMEs about paying super for backpackers

Friday, June 14th, 2019

The ATO has reminded businesses that employ backpackers that they may need to pay superannuation guarantee (SG) for them.
Backpackers on working holidays are considered temporary residents, and are entitled to superannuation guarantee if they are paid $450 or more before tax in a calendar month. Once they leave Australia, they can claim the super paid to them as a Departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP) providing all requirements are met.
TIP
Determine if backpackers on working holidays are eligible for super by using the ATO’s Super guarantee eligibility decision tool.

Protecting Your Super – how new law may affect SMSFs

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Act 2019 introduces a number of reforms to protect individual’s super savings from undue erosion by fees and unnecessary insurance. The ATO says it will now be able to proactively consolidate eligible unclaimed super money into eligible active super accounts, including SMSFs and small APRA funds, if an individual hasn’t requested a direct payment of this money or for it to be rolled over to a fund of their choice. Under the Protecting Your Super package, the ATO says SMSFs may receive a rollover of consolidated unclaimed super money for members.

Super death benefit for de facto partner upheld

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

The Federal Court has dismissed an appeal against a decision to pay a superannuation death benefit pension to a fire fighter’s de facto partner instead of a lump sum to his estate in Howard v Batistich [2019] FCA 525.
The trustee of the Crown Employees Superannuation Fund determined that the respondent, Ms Batistich, was a “de facto partner” of the deceased at the date of his death under the Superannuation Act 1916 (NSW) and the Interpretation Act 1987 (NSW). Accordingly, the trustee determined that Ms Batistich was entitled to a fortnightly pension. If there was no spouse (including a de facto), a lump sum death benefit of $350,000 would have been payable to the deceased estate.
The deceased’s parents, as the administrators of his estate, complained to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal that Ms Batistich did not meet the definition of de facto partner.
In dismissing the appeal, the Court said it was not satisfied that the SCT had misunderstood its task or failed to take into account all the circumstances of the relationship.


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