Property investors who are getting creative with developments and their self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) should be wary that the regulator has a “hit list” of suspect strategies.
As early as this month, the Tax Office has signalled plans to release an alert of sorts over the consequences of arrangements SMSFs enter into in order to develop property.
“Property in general has been on the ATO’s target list for some time and not all of these developments turn out to be roses and sunshine, so the ATO is most likely trying to ensure that SMSF trustees protect their retirement benefits,” said tax trainer and consultant Darren Wynen.
“I would expect that the ATO is going to view this... as being an intervention into what it considers to be a concerning area where transactions are opaque and not necessarily entered into with the degree of rigour that they would expect to see around this,” he said.
The main concern the Tax Office has, according to Mr Wynen, is that the developments are not being used for the sole purpose of generating retirement income – which is the core purpose of superannuation.
Rather, property development may be entered into to take advantage of tax concessions, which would have otherwise been paid outside of superannuation. The fund would therefore be used for a present day benefit, as opposed to a retirement income benefit.
“I think an overriding concern is that they’re seeing people who are undertaking these property developments and they’re questioning whether the true motive is to boost their superannuation balance or whether it’s an arm’s length transaction,” he said.