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SMSF investment in a private company or business

Self-managed super funds (SMSFs) are allowed to invest a private company or business provided the business is operated for the sole purpose of providing retirement benefits for fund members and it is allowed under the trust deed.

SMSF trustees must take into account the sole purpose test when determining whether purchasing a private company or business is appropriate. The sole purpose test means your fund needs to be maintained for the sole purpose of providing retirement benefits to your members or to their dependants if a member dies before retirement.

Under the sole purpose test, the SMSF is eligible for concessional tax treatment. However, trustees who contravene the sole purpose test (i.e. provide a pre-retirement benefit to someone) could lose the fund’s concessional tax status and trustees could face severe civil and criminal penalties.

When trustees are considering investing in an entity that carries on a business, they must ensure their SMSF complies with their investment strategy, arm’s length transactions and the rules surrounding related parties.

SMSF trustees must ensure they do not cross the line between investing in a business and using their SMSF to run a business. Some indicators that the SMSF has crossed the line include those where:

SMSF’s looking to invest in a private company or business must ensure their SMSF trust deed permits the investment; the SMSF has a written and up-to-date investment strategy and investments are made in line with the strategy.

Trustees must also ensure investments are made and maintained on an arm’s length basis; assets are not acquired from related parties (unless they are an exception) and the transaction does not breach the in-house asset limit.

Posted on 12 October '16 by , under Super.

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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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