Be Prepared with these 9 SMSF Audit tips


 

There is no doubt that additional emphasis was being placed on the annual SMSF Audit before Covid-19 and I believe we need to be prepared for more extensive requirements from fund auditors going forward for them to be able to complete the work they do to satisfy the ATO and best practice.

This blog has been prepared by the the Audit team at Super Records and I am grateful for them for some good advice on what additional information/documentation SMSF Trustees and their advisers will be required to provide their Auditor this year. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but it’s pretty damn good. Not all the requirements listed are obligatory but do reflect best practice so discuss these with your accountant or administrator.

Address: PO Box 236, Parramatta, NSW 2124
ABN: 76 153 889 215 I Phone: 02 8892 3777 I Email: audit@superrecords.com.au I Website: http://www.superrecords.com.au

 

1. Early Release of Superannuation – In the case where the lump sum payment made from an SMSF due to the receipt by the Trustee of a copy of a “Coronavirus – early release of super benefits” approval letter issued by the ATO, we will require below documents for audit:

• A copy of the letter received from ATO
• A copy of the signed application made to the super fund by members for lump sum withdrawal
• A copy of the signed minutes of the meeting of trustees approving the lump sum payment
• A copy of the signed confirmation letter sent to members by trustees.

2. Minimum Pension Withdrawal – Any additional documents are not required to be prepared and provided for this. However, we will be reviewing and making sure that if a pensioner has already drawn more than their reduced minimum, it was not returned to super fund as there is no mechanism to return surplus pension payments. However, if the member was eligible for a contribution, it is possible to contribute additional pensions as contributions.

3. Rent Relief provided by SMSF – In the case where SMSF provides rent relief, as an auditor we need to make sure that the rent relief looks reasonable. We will be using the National Cabinet’s Mandatory Code of Conduct – Commercial Leasing Principles to verify the reasonableness for commercial properties. The code provides that:

• The amount of relief should be proportionate to the tenant’s loss in turnover.
• Rent relief can take the form of:

a. a rent waiver which must be at least 50% of the total rent relief and cannot recouped by the landlord over the lease term and/or
b. a rent deferral for the remaining rent relief with this amount amortised over the remaining lease term or at least 24 months (whichever is greater).

We will require the following documents for audit purpose for all type of properties

• A written request by tenant to SMSF for a rent relief listing the adverse economic effects of COVID-19.
• A minute of meeting of SMSF trustees for the relief to be provided and reasons or basis on which the relief to be provided.
• If the arrangement is not as per above mentioned code and if tenant is a related party, the commercial justification based on which the alternate arrangement was negotiated.
• A lease variation document to confirm the agreed updated lease terms.

4. Loan relief provided by SMSF to borrower – In the case where SMSF provides loan relief to a borrower, as an auditor we need to make sure that the loan relief looks reasonable. We will be using the relief offered by commercial lenders to business as per https://www.ausbanking.org.au/covid-19/the-business-relief-package/. This provides that:

• If your business or not-for-profit has been adversely impacted by COVID-19 your bank will allow you to defer principal and interest repayments for all loans attached to the business for a period of six months. While the interest will be capitalised and paid off over the life of the loan.

We will require the following documents for audit purpose

• A written request by borrower to SMSF for a variation of the loan terms listing the adverse economic effects of COVID-19.
• A minute of meeting of SMSF trustees for the relief to be provided and reasons or basis based on which the relief to be provided.
• A loan variation document to confirm the agreed updated loan terms.

5. LRBA relief provided to SMSF by lender – In the case where SMSF receives loan relief from a third party lender, we will require document related to loan relief offered by lender and new accepted loan terms agreed by SMSF and Lender.

In case where SMSF received loan relief from a related party lender, as an auditor we need to make sure that the loan relief looks reasonable. We will be using the relief offered by commercial lenders to business as per https://www.ausbanking.org.au/covid-19/the-business-relief-package/. This provides that:

• If your business or not-for-profit has been adversely impacted by COVID-19 your bank will allow you to defer principal and interest repayments for all loans attached to the business for a period of six months. While the interest will be capitalised and paid off over the life of the loan.

We will require the following documents for audit purpose:

• A written request by SMSF to lender for a variation of the loan terms listing the adverse economic effects of COVID-19.
• A loan variation document to confirm the agreed updated loan terms.

6. In-house asset exceeding 5% due to current market fall – The downturn in the share market may result in the fund’s in-house assets being more than 5% of the fund’s total assets.

We will require the following documents for audit purpose:

• A written plan by trustee setting out the amount of the excess and the steps trustee proposes to take to reduce the market ratio of in-house assets to 5% or below.
• This plan must be prepared before the end of the next following year of income. If an SMSF exceeds the 5% in-house asset threshold as at 30 June 2020, a plan must be prepared and implemented on or before 30 June 2021 to make sure that excess is removed by 30 June 2021.

Provided the in-house asset limit was not exceeded at “acquisition” time, this situation in itself will not cause a breach of SIS. If we are provided with above mentioned information, we as an auditor will not be taking any actions for FY 2020.

7. Financial Statement Disclosure – For SMSFs who have not yet completed financial statements for FY 2019 and if the value of the assets of an SMSF at the time of issue of financial statements is materially lower than the asset value reported in FY 2019 financial statement, please add Subsequent Events Notes to the financial statement regarding FY 2019.

If asset values continue to fall, a similar disclosure may be required in financial statements of FY 2020.

8. Effect on investment strategy due to current market fall – The downturn in the share market may result in the fund investing outside the asset allocation ranges outlined in the strategy. For audit purpose we will require either an updated investment strategy or a minute for review of investment strategy stating reasons for investments outside the ranges and reasons for not changing the investment strategy.

9. New Investment Strategy Guidelines issued by ATO – ATO has released a new investment strategy guideline this year. As an auditor we will review the investment strategy to make sure that on top of the existing requirements of an investment strategy, investment strategy also covers below mentioned guidelines of ATO.

• Investment strategy should be based on the relevant circumstances of the fund. Relevant circumstances may include (but are not limited to) personal circumstances of the members such as their age, employment status, and retirement needs, which influence your risk appetite. Your strategy should explain how your investments meet each member’s retirement objectives.
• When formulating your investment strategy, it is not a valid approach to merely specify investment ranges of 0 to 100% for each class of investment. You also need to articulate how you plan to invest your super or why you require broad ranges to achieve your investment goals to satisfy the investment strategy requirements.
• Investing the predominant share of your retirement savings in one asset or asset class can lead to concentration risk. In this situation, your investment strategy should document that you considered the risks associated with a lack of diversification. It should include how you still think the investment will meet your fund’s investment objectives including your fund’s return objectives and cash flow requirements.

Please find below the ATO guideline link for guidance.

https://www.ato.gov.au/super/self-managed-super-funds/investing/your-investment-strategy/ 

If investment strategy provided is not as per the guidelines, we may need to qualify the audit report and lodge the contravention with the ATO. Also, in that case each trustee/director may face a penalty upwards of $4,200 from the ATO for a breach of the investment strategy requirements.

Looking for an adviser that will keep you up to date and provide guidance and tips like in this blog? Then why now contact me at our Castle Hill or Windsor office in Northwest Sydney to arrange a one on one consultation. Just click the Schedule Now button up on the left to find the appointment options. Do it! Make 2019 the year to get organised or it will be 2029 before you know it.

Please consider passing on this article to family or friends. Pay it forward!

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Viridian Select Pty Ltd ABN 41 621 447 345, AFSL 51572

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This website provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

COVID-19 Providing rental relief for the tenant in an SMSF property


SMSF Rent Relief

 

Todays blog has been prepared by the SMSF Association and I am grateful for their technical input to a strategy that has to be treated very carefully if used.

The economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis are causing significant financial distress for many businesses and individuals.

If your SMSF has a property and a tenant in financial distress, you may be able to provide your tenant with rental relief under an agreed commercial arrangement. This may even be the case when the tenant is a related party or yourself. i.e You or your business are your SMSF’s tenant. Learn more about this strategy here

Ordinarily, charging a tenant a price that is less than market value in an SMSF is usually a breach of superannuation laws. However, the ATO have provided guidance which allows SMSF landlords to provide for a reduction in or waiver of rent because of the financial impacts of the COVID-19.

For the 2019–20 and 2020–21 financial years, the ATO will not take action where an SMSF gives a tenant – who may also be a related party – a temporary rent reduction during this period.

What do you need to do?

There are some important things you should ensure are in place when you are providing a rent reduction to a tenant, especially when this is a related party.

  • Ensure the relief only applies to rent.
    • Any relief offered to a tenant can only relate to the rent component of the lease agreement. The ATO concession does not extend to other lease incentives.
  • Ensure that the reduction in rent is only temporary.
    • This means it should have an agreed period of time or agreed date where the rent is reviewed in light of the economic circumstances.
  • The financial difficulty faced by the tenant is linked to the financial impacts of COVID-19.
    • Any negotiated rent relief will need to be measured against the COVID-19 financial impact suffered by your tenant.
  • Clear arrangements which detail the amount of discount, waiver or deferral of the rent.
    • In evidencing that the rent relief is reasonable, it would be best practice if it is consistent with an approach taken by an arm’s length landlord.
  • Ensure you have proper documentation which allows your independent auditor to be satisfied that the temporary rent relief satisfies all of the above.
    • This may take the form of a signed minute, renewed lease agreement or anything deemed appropriate to amend the terms of the lease temporarily.
    • Even if you are both the tenant and landlord, the above should all be documented.

These are extraordinary times and the ATO is providing this guidance to allow SMSF trustees to be flexible and agile.

If trustees act in good faith in implementing a reasonable and measured reduction in rent because of the impacts of COVID-19 they should not fall foul of the law.

How can we help?

If you need assistance providing rental relief or whether this is the right action for you and your specific circumstances, please feel free to give me a call so that we can discuss in more detail. Alternatively, you can refer to the SMSF Association’s trustee education platform, SMSF Connect.

LASTLY BUT IMPORTANTLY PLEASE BE CAREFUL ABOUT CLICKING ON LINKS IN SMS MESSAGES OR EMAILS. IF YOU WANT TO CHECK ANY ATO/CENTRELINK/Government OFFER THEN GO TO YOUR ADVISER/TAX AGENT OR THE ATO/CENTRELINK/GOVERNMENT WEBSITE DIRECTLY TO VERIFY IT.

Looking for an adviser that will keep you up to date and provide guidance and tips like in this blog? Then why now contact me at our Castle Hill or Windsor office in Northwest Sydney to arrange a one on one consultation. Just click the Schedule Now button up on the left to find the appointment options. Do it! Make 2019 the year to get organised or it will be 2029 before you know it.

Please consider passing on this article to family or friends. Pay it forward!

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Viridian Select Pty Ltd ABN 41 621 447 345, AFSL 51572

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This website provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

COVID-19 Stimulus Package #2 reduction in Minimum Pensions and Deeming


Corona Virus Stimulus Package 2

 

On Sunday the 22nd March the Morrison Government announced it is temporarily reducing the minimum pension drawdown requirements on superannuation income streams for the rest of the 2020 Financial Year and all of the 2021 Financial Year. This affects Account-based Pensions, Transition to Retirement Pensions, Allocated Pensions and Market Linked Income Streams

The measure will benefit many retirees not just SMSF members by reducing the need of to sell equity and bond investments that have taken a hit to their value in the last month to fund their minimum pension drawdown requirements.

There are some tips and traps for those running their own funds so please read the detail carefully.

Minimum annual payments for super income streams for 2019/20 and 2020/21 Financial years.

Age at 1 July

Standard 

Minimum % withdrawal 

50% reduced

minimum pension 

Under 65

4%

2%

65–74

5%

2.5%

75–79

6%

3%

80–84

7% 

3.5%

85–89

9%

4.5%

90–94

11%

5.5%

95 or older

14%

7%

FINER DETAILS with TIPS and TRAPS

Here is some of the finer detail on how these measures will work, along with some tips and traps to consider when taking withdrawals for the rest of this financial year and the full 2020-21 financial year:

  • The measures are forward looking so if a pension member has already taken your minimum pension for the year then they cannot change the payment for this year but they can get organised for 2020/21. So, no you can’t try to sneak a payment back in to the SMSF bank account!
  • If a pension member has already taken pensions payments of equal to or greater than the 50% reduced minimum amount, they are not required to take any further pension payments before 30 June 2020.  For example, many would have taken quarterly or half yearly payments. If they add up to the 50% reduced minimum then you do not need to take anymore payments this financial year.
  • If you still need your pension payments for living expenses but have already taken the 50% reduced minimum then, it may be a good strategy for amounts above the 50% reduced minimum to be treated as either:
    1. a partial lump commutation sum rather than as a pension payment. This would create a debit against the pension members transfer balance account (TBA).  Please discuss this with your accountant and adviser asap as some funds will have to report this quarterly and others on an annual basis. OR
    2. for those with both pension and accumulation accounts to take the excess as a lump sum from the accumulation account balance to preserve as much in tax exempt pension phase as possible going forward to future years.

Let’s look at an example:

Example – 50% reduced minimum pension options

Jenny (66) has an account based pension from her Self Managed Super Fund – The Morrison Pension Fund. The balance of her pension at 1 July 2019 was $800,000, which requires her to take a minimum pension payment for the 2019/20 financial year of 5% ($40,000). Her husband Scotty is still working but will have a large pension on retirement.

Thanks to the Stimulus Package Part #2 she can take a 50% reduced minimum pension for 2019-20, meaning that Jenny is only required to draw down $20,000 before 30 June 2020. As Jenny still needs the income and usually takes her pension every month so has already taken $30,000 for the year. There is still room to use a strategy and benefit. Jenny can now stop the monthly payments for April-June and take a Partial Lump Sum Commutation  of $10,000 to cover her income needs but this will now reduce her Transfer Balance Account by $10,000 as well freeing up the ability to add more to pension phase at a later date (such as on the death of Scotty)

If as of 1 July 2020 Jenny’s Pension account has dropped to $600,000 as a result of the impact of the coronavirus on financial markets, Jenny’s now has the option to do some planning for 2020/21 financial year as well. Based on the 1 July balance Jenny’s 50% reduced minimum pension for the 2020-21 financial year is calculated at $$15,000 or $600,000 x 2.5%. So, she can take the $15,000 via monthly pension payments of $1,250 and her remaining income needs for the year of $25,000 via combination of one or more Partial Lump Sum Commutations during the 2020/21 year. Plan ahead with your adviser to document this properly.

The result of this change is that Jenny can still meet her income needs but will be able to free up some of her Transfer Balance Cap for future use.

More details on this package here Supporting Individuals and Households –Temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown rates

Changes to Deeming Rates

In Stimulus Package #2 the government approved new lower Deeming Rates for Centrelink/DVA income tested benefits. the measure is a further 0.25% drop in Lower Rate to 0.25% and the Higher Rate to 2.25% 

On 12 March, the Government had already announced a 0.5 percentage point reduction in both the upper and lower social security deeming rates. The Government will now reduce these rates by another 0.25 percentage points.

As of 1 May 2020, the upper deeming rate will be 2.25 per cent and the lower deeming rate will be 0.25 per cent. The reductions reflect the low interest rate environment and its impact on the income from savings. The change will benefit around 900,000 income support recipients, including around 565,000 Age Pensioners who will, on average receive around $105 more of the Age Pension in the first full year the reduced rates apply.

What are the new deeming rates?
Situation Deeming rate
Single 0.25% on the first $51,800 of your investment assets, plus 2.25% on your investment assets over the amount of $51,800
Couple 0.25% on the first $86,200 of your combined investment assets, plus 2.25% on your investment assets over the amount of $86,200

Examples provided by Government:

Helen is a single part-rate age pensioner
Helen receives a single part-rate Age Pension. She has $200,000 in financial assets with $175,000 held in a term deposit which returns 1.5 per cent and the remainder in a cash transaction account earning a negligible rate of interest.

Under the former deeming rates, Helen’s Age Pension would have been reduced by $8.50 per fortnight as her income was above the income test threshold. With the change in deeming rates Helen has less deemed income and will now be eligible for a maximum rate Age Pension.

Leslie and Brian are an age pensioner couple
Leslie and Brian are an age pensioner couple. They have $550,000 worth of financial assets. They hold $300,000 in a superannuation account with a conservative investment strategy which returned around 5 per cent last year. They have invested $130,000 in a term deposit with an annual return of 1.5 per cent and hold the remainder in a cash transaction account earning a negligible rate of interest.

Under the former deeming rates, Leslie and Brian’s Age Pension would have been reduced by $65 each per fortnight. Under the new deeming rates, Leslie and Brian’s Age Pension will only be reduced by around $32 each per fortnight.

More details on this package here Supporting Individuals and Households –Reducing social security deeming rates

LASTLY BUT IMPORTANTLY PLEASE BE CAREFUL ABOUT CLICKING ON LINKS IN SMS MESSAGES OR EMAILS. IF YOU WANT TO CHECK ANY ATO/CENTRELINK/Government OFFER THEN GO TO YOUR ADVISER/TAX AGENT OR THE ATO/CENTRELINK WEBSITE DIRECTLY TO VERIFY IT.

Looking for an adviser that will keep you up to date and provide guidance and tips like in this blog? Then why now contact me at our Castle Hill or Windsor office in Northwest Sydney to arrange a one on one consultation. Just click the Schedule Now button up on the left to find the appointment options. Do it! Make 2019 the year to get organised or it will be 2029 before you know it.

Please consider passing on this article to family or friends. Pay it forward!

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

SMSF Specialist Adviser 

 Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter Liam Shorte on Linkedin NextGen Wealth on Facebook   

Verante Financial Planning

Tel: 02 98941844, Mobile: 0413 936 299

PO Box 6002 BHBC, Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

5/15 Terminus St. Castle Hill NSW 2154

Corporate Authorised Representative of Viridian Select Pty Ltd ABN 41 621 447 345, AFSL 51572

This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. This website provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such.

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