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Transitioning to retirement pension in an SMSF

The transition to retirement income pension is quite straight forward, however whether there are clear benefits depends on an individual’s personal circumstances.

When an individual starts the transition to retirement income pension (TRIP) once they reach preservation age and are still working, they receive an income stream from their SMSF.

Their existing account balance in their SMSF simply becomes a pension account, and any future contributions will go to a new accumulation fund in the same SMSF.

The minimum income an individual is required to receive each year is 4 per cent of the balance of their pension account. The maximum income stream they can receive is 10 per cent of the balance of their pension account.

When an individual starts their TRIP, they must instruct their employer to reduce the amount of salary received, and instead salary sacrifice this amount into their SMSF. The maximum salary sacrifice that can be made is $35,000 a year. This includes any employer contributions, such as the compulsory 9.5 per cent employer contribution.

The main benefit of a TRIP is to do with reducing tax. Reducing take home salary means reducing assessable income (which is taxed at an individual’s marginal tax rate). Converting to a TRIP and changing your SMSF to a pension account also means tax on any income your pension account earns, including CGT, will be reduced to zero.

In a lot of cases, implementing a TRIP can mean a significantly higher retirement balance, so it is something everyone should investigate.

Posted on 4 September '15 by , under Super.

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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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