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ATO advice for SMSF members with a market-linked pension

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has recently been made aware of circumstances where a member of a SMSF commences a new market-linked pension and unintentionally exceeds their transfer balance cap.

An individual may have exceeded their transfer balance cap if they were receiving a life expectancy or market-linked pension just before 1 July 2017 (which was a capped defined benefit income stream) and then commuted the pension on or after 1 July 2017 and the transfer balance debit is nil under the special value rule in Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 subsection 294-1245(1); and then commenced a new market-linked pension.

The ATO has acknowledged these are unintended consequences associated with the current law and will not take compliance action at this stage provided an individual’s circumstances align with the above situation and:

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Ineligible downsizer contributions and how they are administered

August 12, 2019

When a downsizer contribution is ineligible, the fund must re-assess the amount in accordance with the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 and the trust deed. This is to determine if the amount can be retained as a non-concessional contribution.

Provided the trust deed allows so, the fund can return the contribution to the member or adjust the prior downsizing contributions to nil and report this amount as a non-concessional contribution when the member meets the age and work tests.

When a contribution can’t be returned or returned in full:
Members who no longer have a super interest with the fund, or an insufficient return amount, must have their contribution re-reported as non-concessional, even if the contribution was returned because the member did not meet the age/work tests. Some of the contribution may be an excess non-concessional contribution (ENCC). Regardless of the age of the member, if this is the case the member will receive an ENCC determination or when the fund can’t return the full amount. Members will continue to have access to all review rights under the ENCC scheme. Even if the member is in pension phase, the funds will still need to return an ineligible downsizer contribution if it cannot be accepted.

When a fund receives a release authority:
An amount released under these circumstances is treated as a super lump sum as it is a portion of the member’s super interest. Being in pension phase doesn’t prevent a fund from complying with the release authority although it may mean the full amount can’t be released, as the available balance may be lower than the amount stated in the release authority. Where the member’s available balance is lower than the release authority amount, the fund must release the maximum amount available.

The ATO monitors the rectification of this contribution reporting. Where funds don’t act within legislative timeframes, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) may be contacted.