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Investing on arm’s length

Running a self-managed super fund requires trustees to adhere to complex laws and follow a number of onerous rules.

One of the most fundamental investment rules for SMSFs is that the trustees must transact on an arm’s length basis to ensure no conflict of interest arises. An arm’s length transaction requires trustees to conduct on a commercial basis as if there was no relationship between the parties.

This means the purchase and sale price of fund assets should always reflect the true market value of the asset, and the income from the assets held by the fund should always reflect the true market rate of return.

SMSF trustees must obtain independent valuations for assets which are not listed on a public market. Furthermore, if a SMSF sells an asset to a related party or member of the fund, the sale price must be at market value.

Any non-arm’s length income is taxed at the highest marginal tax rate. The ATO considers non-arm’s length income as income which is derived from a scheme in which the parties were not dealing with each other at arm’s length and if it is more than the SMSF might have been expected to derive (if the parties had been dealing on a arm’s length basis).

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News

SMSFs: beware of illegal early super release

July 13, 2018

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is reminding self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustees to beware of allowing members to access their super early.

A self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustee must meet a condition of release before any funds can legally be released.

The ATO can issue severe penalties if you or a SMSF member access your super before you are legally entitled to do so.

Some consequences of getting caught up in an illegal super scheme include the disqualification of trustees, imposition of administrative penalties, the fund being made non-complying and prosecution.

The Tax Office encourages those members who have been involved in an illegal super scheme to contact them immediately. The ATO will review your voluntary disclosure and take your circumstances into account when determining any penalties.