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Who is a ‘related party’ in an SMSF?

Self-managed super funds (SMSFs) have a number of investment restrictions which apply to transactions conducted within the fund.

One such restriction applies to transactions involving ‘related parties’ of the fund and ‘relatives of members.’

No one associated with the SMSF should obtain a present-day benefit from the fund’s investments. The fund needs to meet the ‘sole purpose test’ of providing death or retirement benefits to the SMSF members or their dependents.

A breach to the investment restrictions may result in significant penalties, such as the disqualification of a trustee and even prosecution.

The Tax Office considers a ‘related party’ as:

– relatives of each member

– the business partners of each member

– any spouse or child of those business partners

– any company the member or their associates control or influence

– any trust the member or their associates control

The ATO considers a ‘relative of a member’ as a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, lineal descendant or adopted child of the member or their spouse; or a spouse of any individual specified previously.

Generally, SMSFs cannot borrow money and cannot buy assets from, or lend money to, fund members or other related parties (although there are exceptions to this rule).

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Self-managed super funds (SMSF) aren’t just about financial investment

December 3, 2020

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:

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.