Setting up a member’s total super balance for success

02 Jun 2022
Annie Dawson

Annie Dawson

Senior SMSF Technical Specialist

Often the focus at year end is on making super contributions or drawing minimum pension payments before 30 June.  But don’t forget to review a member’s total super balance (TSB) as well.

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A member’s TSB at 30 June 2022 will be relevant for accessing concessional super measures in 2022/23 such as:

Measure TSB at 30 June 2022 must be:
Using ‘catch up’ concessional contributions Less than $500,000
Non-concessional contribution (NCC) cap of $110,000 Less than $1.7m
Triggering ‘bring forward’ rules to make up to $220k of NCCs Less than $1.59m
Triggering ‘bring forward’ rules to make up to $330k of NCCs Less than $1.48m

From 1 July 2022, members who are under 75 years of age will no longer need to meet the work test to make super contributions. That means more clients than ever before will care about their TSB falling within a particular threshold.

If you have a client who would really like to be below a particular TSB threshold, there are steps that can be taken to lower their balance ahead of 30 June 2022:

  • Splitting eligible concessional contributions to a spouse. Don’t forget that contribution splitting is always a year behind – in other words, clients can split 2020/21 contributions up until 30 June 2022 but normally they can’t split 2021/22 contributions until next year. The maximum splittable amount is the lesser of 85% of concessional contributions or the member’s concessional contribution cap for that year (including any additional amounts available because of the carry forward rules). Note that the receiving spouse must not yet be retired or reached age 65. Watch the timing as well – since it’s only concessional contributions that can be split in this way, it’s important that if personal contributions are to be split, the paperwork needed to claim a tax deduction is done first. It’s also important that the split happens before 30 June 2022.
  • Withdrawing benefits. If a member is eligible to withdraw super benefits, it might even be worth taking money out of super before 30 June 2022 just to scrape in under a key threshold. Take for example, retired couple Ben (age 73) and Jerry (age 71). Ben and Jerry each have account based pensions (predominantly taxable), with balances of $1.8m and $1.2m respectively. If Ben takes a partial commutation of $660,000 prior to 30 June 2022, both Ben and Jerry will have TSBs of less than $1.48m at 30 June 2022. This means that in July 2022, both Ben and Jerry will be eligible to make a non-concessional contribution of $330,000 and commence new account based pensions with these monies (subject to their transfer balance caps). Withdrawing the monies ahead of 30 June 2022 was critical for Ben’s contribution. Without that quick action, only Jerry would have been able to make non-concessional contributions within his cap in 2022/23. Taking action before 30 June 2022 meant that they could even up their member balances and increase their tax free components.
  • Making adjustments for ‘closure costs’. The ATO has previously recognised that a member’s TSB will not necessarily be the same as the amount shown in an SMSF’s annual financial statements. Rather, there are a number of costs that could reasonably be taken into account for the specific purpose of determining an appropriate TSB value. For example, the costs of disposing of fund assets and the tax on any unrealised capital gains. If it appears likely a client will exceed a relevant TSB threshold by a small amount, it may be worth reviewing their TSB calculation and reporting a revised amount in the SMSF Annual Return at the special labels X1 and X2. Whilst this adjustment can occur ‘off balance sheet’, it’s important to ensure suitable evidence is retained to support the calculation.

Don’t overlook the fact that a member’s TSB can be more than just their member entitlements or a different amount altogether. For example, special rules apply if a member has lifetime or life expectancy pensions. Similarly, there is a special TSB calculation for some members of funds that have entered into new limited recourse borrowing arrangements since 1 July 2018. If the lender is a related party of the fund or the member has met a full condition of release (even if the lender is a third party), a proportionate share of the outstanding loan balance at 30 June 2022 will be added back to the member’s normal super balance at 30 June 2022. If that makes their TSB go over a key threshold (say $1.7m) it might disrupt their plans to use cash flow from non-concessional contributions to meet loan repayments.

Finally, be careful if using strategies that involve deferring the allocation of contributions made in June until July. In our view, a member’s TSB will include unallocated contributions at 30 June 2022.That’s because any member’s TSB is essentially whatever amount the trustee would have paid to them had they left the Fund on 30 June 2022. If that happened in practice, the trustee would naturally be obliged to immediately allocate the contributions before the member left.

To stay up to date with industry changes sign up for one of our upcoming Education webinars or SMSF Clinics. Follow this link to learn more.

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