SMSFs: valuation of assets; separation of assets; insurance strategy – new draft SIS regs released

The Government has released draft regulations proposing to amend the SIS Regulations to require trustees of SMSFs to value the assets of the fund at “net market value” for reporting purposes from the 2012-13 year of income. “Net market value” will be defined to mean the amount that could be expected to be received from the disposal of an asset, in an orderly market, after deducting the costs expected to be incurred in realising the proceeds of such a disposal.

The draft regs also propose to amend the investment strategy operating standard in SIS reg 4.09 to require SMSF trustees to consider whether to hold a contract of insurance for one or more of their members. SMSF trustees will also be required to “review regularly” the investment strategy. A proposed new operating standard will require trustees to keep money and other assets of an SMSF separate from money and assets held by a trustee personally and by a standard employer-sponsor (or an associate). The proposed regulations will commence on 1 July 2012.


SUBMISSIONS are due by 1 June 2012.

SMSF pension fund tax exemption ceases on death

A self managed superannuation fund that is paying an income stream (pension) is exempt from tax including capital gains) on the earnings from assests used to pay the pension.
The ATO has issued a draft ruling TD2001/D3 discussing its views on when a pension commences and ceases.

The draft ruling confirms that the ATO believes that a:

superannuation income stream ceases as soon as the member in receipt of the superannuation income stream dies, unless a dependent beneficiary of the deceased is automatically entitled under the superannuation fund’s deed, or the rules of the superannuation income stream, to receive an income stream on the death of the member.

THe consequences of this is that any fund investment sold at at profit to fund the payment of death benefits to the member’s benficiaries with be taxable capital gains for the fund.

This ruling will not comes as a surprise as many commentators have reached the same interpretation of the law.

One way to avoid or mininise this additional tax sting on death is for the trustees to try to avoid building up large unrealised capital gains. Where the fund invests in listed investments such as shares, the trustees could regularly sell growing shares and repurchase them at the same price. This would realise the capital gain while the fund is still tax exempt.

Australians sceptical on super

There’s a revolt underway in consumer land as Australians from all walks of life vote with their feet and shun superannuation in favour of personal savings and other investments.

Some push-back is to be expected given account balances struggled to fight the pull of gravity over the last two years, falling lower and lower for what seemed like an eternity to most members.

But what’s really interesting is what’s driving the distrust and scepticism of super. It’s not so much the performance of funds during the financial crisis but instead a fear that the Government will change the rules.

This message came through loud and clear in a recent Focus Group held by CoreData with pre and post-retirees aged 50 to 70.

Brad, a 55-year-old male, says he’s never trusted super because he doesn’t trust the government. He says successive governments keep “changing the laws arbitrarily” and we’re in for another wave of that this year with the election looming.

Brad is not alone in his line of thinking. Indeed there was wide consensus around the table that super is not the safe haven that the industry would have you believe, and while there are tax incentives to saving through super, this is irrelevant if the goal posts keep shifting.

Bruce, a 52-year-old male, thinks relying on super could cause him big problems in retirement. He’s developing his assets outside of super as well because he’s convinced that the Government has dug itself “such a deep debt hole” that they’ll use the superannuation system to recoup that.

The building scepticism is reflected in a recent study by CoreData which found superannuation is the number one financial concern for the average Australian.

Super, including fund rollover, Government super policy, planning for retirement, retirement income options and pensions, ranked ahead of tax, family financial matters, paying off loans, investing and saving.

Industry bodies such as the AIST, ASFA and IFSA have recently repeated calls for a hike of Superannuation Guarantee (SG) to 12% to avoid a $695 billion retirement savings gap.
If the dissent among consumers continues to grow, a legislated increase might just be the only way to boost contributions to the system.

From Burning Pants