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Self-managed super-fund (SMSF) and you

Like other super funds, SMSFs are a way of saving for your retirement.  Generally, the main difference between an SMSF and other types of funds is that members of an SMSF are the trustees.  This means the members of the SMSF run it for their own benefit. 

SMSFs are not suitable for everyone and you should think carefully before deciding to set one up.  It is a major financial decision and you need to have the time and skills to do it.  There may be other, better options for your super savings. 

If you are considering an SMSF  for your super savings, licensed financial advisers, tax agents and accountants can help you understand what is involved. 

If you decide that an SMSF is the appropriate vehicle for your super savings, you need to ensure the fund is set up and maintained correctly so that it is eligible for tax concessions, can pay benefits and is as easy as possible to administer.

Once your SMSF is established, you as trustee control the investment of the contributions and fund earnings.  Your  SMSF must have a trust deed that forms part  of the governing rules for operating the fund.  You must also prepare and implement an  investment strategy and ensure it is reviewed regularly. 

There are rules and regulations you must follow to ensure the fund’s assets are protected to provide benefits in retirement.

While contributions are being made to the fund it is considered to be in the accumulation phase.  When one or more members retire, you as trustee need  to understand and follow the requirements of the law and regulations governing payments of benefits. 

It is important to note the rules and regulations that apply to funds in the accumulation phase continue even when one or more members retire; however, additional rules apply to the retirement phase. 

You should continually reassess the circumstances of the fund and each individual member to determine whether an SMSF is still the most appropriate option for your retirement savings.  In some cases you may find that you no longer have the capacity to deal with the complexity or the time required to manage your SMSF. 

You may decide that it is not cost-effective to continue to run your own fund.  Depending on the  circumstances it may be necessary to transfer member benefits to another complying super fund. 

Other reasons why you might wind up your SMSF include when all members have left the SMSF (for  example, they have rolled over their benefits to another fund or have died) or all the benefits have been paid out. 

Mike Alvarez, a CPA and Registered Tax Agent, is the director of QA Audit and Tax Services Pty Ltd, a CPA Practice.  He is also an ASIC Registered SMSF Auditor.  Tel. 02 9628 2933.


Mike Alvarez, a CPA and Registered Tax Agent is the director of QA Audit and Tax Services Pty Ltd, a CPA Practice, telephone (02) 9628 2933.