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Division 7a in detail

Business owners sometimes borrow money from their own company for a variety of personal and financial reasons. However, there can be an issue with tax law compliance if the proper steps are not carried out in treating the transaction correctly.

Division 7a is an integrity measure of tax legislation that comes into effect when there is a loan by a company to the business’ owners and associates, i.e. the shareholders of the company. Associates are broadly defined and can include family members and other related entities.

Specifically, this tax law covers any monetary benefits including:

-payments made to a shareholder (or associate) by a private company, including transfers or uses of property for less than market value

-loans made without specific loan agreements

-debt forgiveness

These transactions may come under the Division 7a provisions and as such are treated as assessable unfranked dividends to the shareholder or associate, and are taxed accordingly.

An assessable unfranked dividend means that there are no franking credits available to the recipient, so the franking tax offset will not apply and the recipient will have to pay tax on the dividends at the usual marginal rate.

However, there a few instances in which Division 7a will not apply:

-if the payment is made to a shareholder or associate who is also an employee of the company, than the dividend may be treated as a fringe benefit instead.

-to payments of genuine debts

-if the loan is entered into formally with a written agreement outlining minimum interest rates and maximum term criteria. However, minimum yearly re- payments of the loan are required in order to avoid the amount’s being treated as dividends arising in later years.

-payments or loans excluded by virtue of other tax provisions

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Investing in shares vs property in SMSFs

March 19, 2020

Shares and property are two popular investment options for those with a self-managed super fund (SMSF). However, they both have very different attributes and choosing the one that will achieve the best outcome for an SMSF depends on your personal goals and situation.

While the price of shares can vary drastically, property is a relatively stable asset, making it appealing to those who want more security and predictability. Property prices are also negotiable unlike shares, and you can generally borrow money at a lower rate for property purchases.

It may seem hard to find the perfect investment property, but older and undercapitalised properties can be renovated for profit. However, returns from property rentals can be dented due to factors such as land tax, utilities and rates, maintenance and tenancy vacancies.

Shares are more dynamic and volatile than property. One advantage is the accessibility of investing in shares, as you can enter the share market with a few thousand dollars – much less than what you need to invest in a property.

Maintaining a portfolio of quality shares that pay tax-effective dividends may be a good way to fund retirement. With the right portfolio allocation, shares also have the potential to provide a better, stronger income than property rentals, as long as that income is sustainable and increasing.

Property can generally be used as a wealth-creation tool, while shares can create a reliable retirement income. For those who can afford to put more money into investments, it may be a good idea to consider investing and diversifying in both. If you’re unsure about which investment option is right for you, seeking financial advice may be the best option.