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Preparing for contribution cap changes

From 1 July 2017, many of the 2016 Federal Budget super reforms will take place, including the reduction of both the annual concessional and non-concessional contribution caps.

Concessional contributions
Concessional contributions include employer contributions and salary sacrifice amounts. Personal contributions claimed as a personal super contribution deduction also count as concessional contributions.

The concessional (pre-tax) contributions cap will be lowered to $25,000 for everyone. Previously, those aged 50 years and older could contribute up to $30,000 and $35,000 for everyone else.

Individuals who wish to make extra concessional contributions before 1 July will need to check what concessional contributions have been made to all their super funds from 1 July 2016 and arrange for the additional concessional contributions (up to their age cap) to be paid to their super before 30 June 2017.

A new super rule will be introduced effective from 1 July 2018 which will allow individuals with a total super balance of less than $500,000 at the end of 30 June of the previous year to ‘carry-forward’ their unused concessional contributions cap. This allows individuals to access their unused cap space on a rolling basis for five years.

For example, in 2018-19, Tom makes $10,000 in concessional contributions, leaving an unused amount of concessional contribution cap of $15,000. Tom can carry forward for up to five years to increase his concessional contribution cap. In 2019-20, in addition to his normal $25,000 concessional cap, Tom can use the $15,000 of unused cap from the previous year. This means Tom’s total concessional cap for 2019-20 is $40,000.

Non-concessional contributions
Non-concessional contributions include personal contributions for which you do not claim as a tax deduction. All non-concessional contributions made to all your super funds are added together and count towards the cap.

The annual non-concessional (after-tax) contribution cap will be reduced from $180,000 to $100,000. Those aged between 65 and 74 years old can still access this cap, provided they satisfy the work test.

Individuals who make non-concessional contributions with a total super balance greater or equal to the general transfer balance cap for the year ($1.6 million for the 2017-18 financial year) at the end of 30 June of the previous financial year will give rise to excess contributions.

For those under 65 years, you can still bring forward three years worth of non-concessional contributions. However, as the non-concessional cap has lowered to $100,000, you will only be able to bring forward $300,000 in a single year from 1 July 2017 onwards.

To access the non-concessional bring forward arrangement for 2017-18, you must be under 65 years for one day during the first year and you must have a total super balance less than $1.5 million.

The remaining cap amount for years two or three of a bring-forward arrangement is reduced to nil for a financial year if your total super balance is greater than or equal to the general transfer cap at the end of 30 June of the previous financial year.

Transitional arrangements will apply to those individuals who have triggered the bring-forward period in the 2015-16 or 2016-17 financial years but have not fully used their bring-forward before 1 July 2017.

Posted on 8 March '17 by , under Tax.

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Self-managed super funds (SMSF) aren’t just about financial investment

Individuals may be looking to opt for an SMSF because these provide entire control over where the money is invested. While this sounds enticing, the downside is that they involve a lot more time and effort as all investment is managed by the members/trustees.

Firstly, SMSFs require a lot of on-going investment of time:

  • Aside from the initial set-up, members need to continually research potential investments.
  • It is important to create and follow an investment strategy that will help manage the SMSF – but this will need to be updated regularly depending on the performance of the SMSF.
  • The accounting, record keeping and arranging of audits throughout the year and every year also need to be conducted up to par.

Data shows that SMSF trustees spend an average of 8 hours per month managing their SMSFs. This adds up to more than 100 hours per year and demonstrates that compared to other superannuation methods, is a lot more time occupying.

Secondly, there are set-up and maintenance costs of SMSFs such as tax advice, financial advice, legal advice and hiring an accredited auditor. These costs are difficult to avoid if you want the best out of your SMSF. A statistical review has shown that on average, the operating cost of an SMSF is $6,152. This data is inclusive of deductible and non-deductible expenses such as auditor fee, management and administration expenses etc., but not inclusive of costs such as investment and insurance expenses.

Thirdly, investing in SMSF requires financial and legal knowledge and skill. Trustees should understand the investment market so that they can build and manage a diversified portfolio. Further, when creating an investment strategy, it is important to assess the risk and plan ahead for retirement, which can be difficult if one is not equipped with the necessary knowledge. In terms of legal knowledge, complying with tax, super and other relevant regulations requires a basic level of understanding at the very least. Finally, insurance for fund members also needs to be organised which can be difficult without additional knowledge.
Although SMSFs have the advantage of autonomy when it comes to investing, this comes at a price. Members/trustees need to invest time and money into managing the fund and on top of this, are required to have some financial and legal knowledge to successfully manage the fund.

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