The ATO has launched Project Super Scheme Smart, an initiative aimed at educating advisers and individuals about the potential pitfalls of retirement planning schemes. The ATO has had considerable success to date in shutting down tax avoidance schemes but recently has seen an increase in schemes designed specifically to target those approaching retirement.
“Retirement planning is a critical and exciting time in people’s lives as they work out how they’ll manage their finances after they leave the workforce. For many, they rely heavily on the advice of financial planners, accountants, and other advisers.
“Unfortunately, promoters of these risky schemes are aware of the role that advisers play at this critical time and are targeting advisers to get their assistance in recommending schemes to clients,” Mr Cranston said.
According to the ATO, people most at risk of being targeted are those approaching retirement. This can mean anyone aged 50 or over, looking to put significant amounts of money into retirement, particularly self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustees, self-funded retirees, small business owners, company directors and individuals involved in property investment.
There are a number of schemes currently targeting Australians planning for retirement. Some current examples, the ATO is concerned about, include:
- Dividend stripping – Where the shareholders in a private company transfer ownership of their shares to an SMSF so that the company can pay dividends to the SMSF. The purpose being to strip profits from the company in a tax-free form.
- Non-arm’s length limited recourse borrowing arrangements – When an SMSF trustee undertakes limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBA) established or maintained on terms that are not consistent with an arm’s length dealing.
- Personal services income – Where an individual (usually at pension phase) diverts income earned from personal services to a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) where it is concessionally taxed or treated as exempt from tax.
If you have any concerns or would like to discuss your particular circumstances contact us and we’ll arrange for you to speak with a trusted and qualified expert.