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Do you have to pay tax on super death benefits?

When someone dies, their superannuation usually gets transferred to their beneficiary as superannuation death benefits. Depending on who the beneficiary is, the benefits may be taxed in some circumstances.

If you are a beneficiary, the amount of tax you pay depends on factors such as:

Someone who is tax-dependant will:

Lump sum payments

Lump sum super benefits paid to tax-dependant beneficiaries are not taxed, whereas those who are not tax-dependent will need to pay more tax and will only be able to receive the benefit as a lump sum. Not all super death benefits paid to a non-tax dependant are subject to tax. There are tax-free components that are made up of contributions after-tax that the member made to their super.

The taxed element (where the member paid tax in their super) of the taxable component of the benefit is subject to a maximum tax rate of 15% plus the Medicare levy. The untaxed element (where the death benefit is being paid from an untaxed super fund or includes proceeds from a life insurance policy held by the fund) of the taxable component of the benefit is subject to a maximum tax rate of 15% plus the Medicare levy.

Income stream payments

If the death benefit is paid in the form of an income stream, the tax treatment of the payment is dependent on the age of the deceased and beneficiary at the time.

If the deceased or the beneficiary is aged 60 or over at the time of the benefactor’s death and the super is paid from a taxed super fund, then the payment will not be taxed. If the age of the deceased and the age of the beneficiary are both under 60, the taxable portion of income stream payments will be treated as assessable income but will be entitled to a tax offset equal to 15% of the amount.

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News

SMSF property investment regulations to keep in mind

June 2, 2020

Property is a common investment option for SMSFs, however, the ATO has a number of regulations SMSF owners need to be wary of. The ATO is particularly concerned with those using SMSF assets to invest in property in a way that is detrimental to retirement purposes.

To ensure you do not breach provisions of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SISA), here is a breakdown of the ATO’s common regulatory concerns:

Also keep in mind that you cannot improve a property or change the nature of a property while there is a loan in place. While you can look to make additional contributions to your SMSF to speed up the loan repayment process, you will be precluded from making further contributions to your SMSF if any outstanding loans in your super balance exceed $1.6 million.

In the case that any of the ATO’s regulatory concerns apply to you and your SMSF’s involvement with property investment, confirm your situation and report your circumstances to the ATO. Additional regulatory matters regarding income tax such as non-arm’s length income (NALI) provisions as well as GST need to be reported as well.