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ATO warns pre-retirees on SMSF tax schemes

The ATO has its sight set on individuals participating in an increasing number of aggressive tax avoidance and retirement planning schemes in self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF).

The Tax Office has launched Super Scheme Smart, an initiative designed to help inform individuals and advisers about illegal retirement planning schemes. The program is a result of an increase in schemes designed specifically to target those approaching retirement.

Individuals approaching retirement are most at risk, in particular, those aged 50 or over, looking to put significant amounts of money into retirement. SMSF trustees, self-funded retirees, small business owners, company directors and individuals involved in property investment are particularly at risk.

In addition to severe penalties, individuals caught using an illegal scheme may risk losing some of their retirement nest egg and their rights as a trustee to manage and operate a self-managed superannuation fund.

Posted on 2 August '16 by , under Tax.

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Superfund categories and what they mean

There are four different categories of super funds. These have different primary features and are more applicable to certain people than they are to others.

Retail super funds

Anyone can join retail funds. They are mostly run by banks and investment companies:

  • Allow for a wide range of investment options.
  • Financial advisors may recommend this type of fund as they receive commissions or might get paid fees for them.
  • Although they usually range from medium to high cost, there may be low-cost alternatives.
  • The companies that own these funds will aim to keep some of the profit they yield

Industry super funds

Anyone can join bigger industry funds, but smaller ones may only be open to people in certain industries i.e. health.

  • Most are accumulation funds but some older ones may have defined benefit members
  • Range from low to medium cost
  • Not-for-profit, so all profits are put back into the fund

Public sector super funds

Only available for government employees

  • Employers contribute more than the 9.5% minimum
  • Modest range of investment choices
  • Newer members are usually in an accumulation fund, but many of the long-term members have defined benefits
  • Low fees
  • Profits are put back into the fund

Corporate super funds

Arranged by employers for employees. Large companies may operate corporate funds under the board of trustees. Some corporate funds are operated by retail or industry funds, but availability is restricted to employees

  • If managed by bigger fund, wide range of investment options
  • Older funds have defined benefits, but most are accumulation funds
  • Low to medium costs for large employers, could be high cost for small employers

Self-managed super funds

Private super fund you manage yourself. Many more nuances to this type of fund. Most prominent feature is the autonomy over investment.

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