SMSF Using an Unrelated Unit Trust for Property Development


Following on from my previous article How a SMSF can Purchase a Property with a Related Party – Using a 13.22c Trust , another strategy for those wishing to engage in property development with their SMSF involvement is for the fund trustee to invest in a unit trust that holds the development land / existing property by subscribing for units in the unit trust with partners so that no related entity group owns more than 50% of the units in the trust.

Propert Development

Where the fund trustee invests in an unrelated trust the trustee for the unit trust is not required to comply with the requirements of regulation 13.22C of the SIS Regulations. This means that the trustee for the unit trust can borrow to fund the land development without the fund trustee breaching the in-house asset rules in s71 of the SIS Act.

To make it very clear the unit trust will be unrelated if the fund trustee and its associates do not:

  • exercise Sufficient Influence; or
  • have a fixed entitlement to more than 50% of the income and capital of the unit trust; or
  • have the power to remove or appoint the trustee for the unit trust.

So each SMSF or related group of investors can own exactly 50% in combination between them and still maintain an unrelated trust and meet the above requirements.

Keep it simple as it  is important that the units in the unit trust carry equal rights to income and capital so that you do not also trigger the non arm’s length income provisions under s295-550 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (1997 Act).

The diagram below shows 2 unrelated Self Managed Superannuation Funds investing in a unit trust equally (50/50) to carry out a property development. One of the SMSFs uses as related party loan to fund their purchase of the units. Remember it is only the units that are offered as security not the property in the trust.

Unrelated Unit Trust

Each SMSF contributes $350,000 and the property is developed for a total cost of $700,000 and sold for $1m. The$300,000 profit flow back through the Unit Trust to the unit holders equally.

Sufficient Influence

Where two unrelated SMSFs each hold 50% of the units in the unit trust, it is important that the trust management decisions are decided on a 50/50 basis. It should be very clear from documentation and minutes of the trust that decisions are made jointly.

How to avoid distributions to the SMSF being treated as non-arm’s length income?

Where the SMSF invests by way of a unit trust structure, any income received by the fund trustee may be treated as non arm’s length income and taxed at 47% under s295-550(5) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (1997 Act), where:

  • the parties are not dealing at arm’s length terms; and
  • the fund trustee receives an amount it would not otherwise have received if the parties were dealing on arm’s length terms.

Similarly, income the SMSF derives as a beneficiary of the trust, other than because of a fixed entitlement to income, will be treated as non arm’s length income and taxed at 47%.

Therefore, it is important to ensure that the unit trust is a fixed trust, meaning that the entitlement of unit holders to receive income and/or capital from the unit trust is fixed and indefeasible. However, even with a fixed trust it is necessary for the income to be no more than the income that would have been derived if the parties were dealing with each other at arms-length (s295-550(5)).

Managing powers of trustee appointment or removal

Again to avoid falling foul of the legislation, the constitution of the trustee company of the unit trust should be designed to ensure that the SMSF trustee and/or its associates do not have the power to control the trustee by effectively having the power to appoint and remove the trustee for the unit trust by reason that they hold a majority of the shares in the trustee. One trap is a constitution that allows the chairperson to have a casting vote where the chairperson is a SMSF Trustee or representative of the SMSF trustee.

Documentation

When the transaction is structured by way of an unrelated unit trust arrangement, the following documents should be prepared by an experienced legal expert (not off the shelf):

  • purpose specific unit trust deed and accompanying minutes of meeting; and
  • unit holders’ agreement all ensuring none of the requirements breached..

Gradual acquisitions of more units by the SMSF

Where a fund trustee invests in an unrelated unit trust the fund trustee may acquire the units held by the other party over time, subject to complying with the provisions of the SIS Act and keeping their related entity group to less than 50% of the overall trust units.  Keep in mind that where the unit trust is land rich, there may be a corresponding stamp duty liability and there may be capital gains tax implications for the initial owner as well as valuation fees at each transaction date.

Remember the Sole Purpose Test

In the zest for undertaking any strategy I always remind clients about the reason for undertaking any investment. Your aim should be to provide for a better retirement. If that is not the core purpose then you are breaching the sole purpose test and should reconsider the whole strategy. Also you must review or amend your fund’s investment strategy to ensure this investment falsl within it’s guidelines..

Important information (emphasised for use of this material):

The information in this article is provided for illustrative purposes only and does not take into consideration your personal circumstances. You are encouraged to seek financial, tax and legal advice suitable to your circumstances to avoid a decision that is not appropriate. Any reference to your actual circumstances is coincidental. Magnitude, Verante and its representatives receive fees from the provision of financial advice.

Are you looking for an advisor 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.

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 Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557

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.

Image courtesy of hywards at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Using your SMSF to plan now for a future downsize and a seachange


Living in Sydney and I have many clients who dream of retiring up or down the coast or inland to more suitable and often slower paced areas of Australia.  SMSF Property Investment

Many plan to downsize and sell their Sydney home in retirement and purchase a place on the coast. The issue that arises is that they often feel they have identified the area or actual property they want to live in during retirement and want to secure it now. Others are afraid that the selected area will be priced out of their budget in future years with so many baby boomers retiring over the coming decades.

So here is a solution we used for a few of our clients wanting to plan ahead and reduce that risk.

Jeff & Joan (of course it’s not their real names!) came to see me in 2006 and they had a lovely house in Hills District of Sydney but it was 2 storeys and with Jeff’s knees playing up they knew that they would need a single level property later. Also they planned to move to Lake Macquarie to be nearer their children and hopefully future grandchildren in Newcastle in retirement.

They could not borrow to buy a property in their own names as they had business and family commitments that reduced their borrowing capacity.

They had a decent sized SMSF and could afford to buy a property as part of their diversified strategy so we put this strategy to them.

They identified a property they would like in Lake Macquarie that ticked all the boxes and was currently tenanted. We revised the SMSF Investment strategy and put the trustees reasoning for investing in residential property and the projected returns and maintained a diversified investment portfolio with the other funds. We also looked at options and exit strategies as part of the analysis and the investment stood up as a sound one for their portfolio.

There SMSF purchased the property in early 2007 for $400,000 and it was a sound investment over the following 5 years providing a reasonable rental income and about 3% capital growth per year over that time which was decent for a single level property just one street back from the water.

In 2012 Jeff decided to retire and Joan agreed to reduce her hours. They put their house in Castle Hill on the market and gave the Lake Macquarie Tenants 4 months notice which they felt was fair. Their Sydney property sold a few months later for $850,000.

We got a professional valuation on the Lake Macquarie property and it was valued between $480,000-$500,000, so we agreed a market value of $490,000. The couple elected for a lump sum pension commutation from their SMSF paid “in-specie” as the Lake Macquarie property from their Self Managed Super fund and because it was in NSW they did have to pay Stamp Duty on the transfer. I believe on Victoria and WA there  are exemptions that apply on such transfers as long as it is the same Beneficial Owners after the transaction. We sought legal advice here in NSW and were unable to get this concession.

The couple then used $150,000 to renovate the property and kept $150,000 in Term Deposits in their own name. This left approximately $500,000 which they contributed as Non-Concessional contributions equally to the SMSF.

What were the benefits?

  1. Secured their choice of future retirement home earlier.  The relief of having this certainty should not be underestimated by advisers.
  2. They did not over extend their personal debt which would have left them very exposed during a downturn in their business from 2008-2010
  3. Rental income from 2007 to 2012 was taxed at only 15% rather than their higher marginal rates.
  4. Secured a $90,000 tax-free gain on the investment property as they were in pension phase.
  5. Turned their superannuation accounts from mostly a Taxable component to accounts with more than $250,000 each of non-concessional components and Tax Free to their adult children as part of their Estate Planning.
  6. Oh and they missed the GFC effect on this portion of their investments!

Downside:

  1. Yes we had to pay Stamp duty but that was highlighted from the start as a possibility
  2. The house prices did not run away from them in Lake Macquarie but at least they were not worried.

I must also mention a comment the clients made in their latest review and that was that in the 12 months since they moved they have not seen an alternative property, that would have suited their needs so well, come on the market so the advanced planning worked in their favour. Oh and they now have 2 grandchildren that they look after 2 days per week while enjoying the Lake Macquarie lifestyle they wanted.

Why not checkout my article “ What can my SMSF invest in?” as a good place to start.

As always please contact me if you want to look at your own options. We have offices in Castle Hill and Windsor but can meet clients anywhere in Sydney or online via Skype.

Keep updated by putting an email address in on the left hand column and pressing the “Sign me up!” button. Happy to take comments in the section below.

Bye for now.

Liam Shorte B.Bus SSA™ AFP

Financial Planner & SMSF Specialist Advisor™

Verante Financial Planning

SMSF Specialist Adviser Follow SMSFCoach on Twitter  Liam Shorte on Linkedin  SMSFCoach on Facebook  

Top 50 Logo 12%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 Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557

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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