06 Mar Contributions into SMSFs: minimum standards
There are many compliance obligations for trustees of self managed superannuation funds (SMSFs). One of the simplest but most important is ensuring that contributions from members can be accepted into the fund. This involves reporting the tax file numbers (TFNs) of members to the ATO, ensuring non-mandated contributions are not accepted for members over a certain age, and observing certain restrictions on in specie (asset) contributions.
Broadly, whether a contribution to an SMSF can be accepted depends on the type of contribution, the age of the member making the contribution, certain caps, and whether the fund has the TFN of the member.
When a member joins an SMSF, they need to provide their TFN, which then needs to be passed on to the ATO through the registration process. If a TFN is not provided, the fund cannot accept certain member contributions, including personal contributions, eligible spouse contributions and super co-contributions. Employer contributions, including salary sacrifice contributions and other assessable contributions, may also be liable for additional income tax of 32% on top of the 15% tax already paid.
If an SMSF mistakenly accepts a contribution it should not have, the fund must return it within 30 days of becoming aware of the error. Failure to comply with the time limit does not affect the fund’s legal obligation to return contributions.
Even if a member has provided their TFN, the type of a contribution combined with the age of the member can affect what is acceptable. For example, mandated employer contributions such as super guarantee contributions from a member’s employer can generally be accepted at any time, regardless of the member’s age or the number of hours they work. Non-mandated contributions largely cannot be accepted if a member is aged 75 years or older.
Lastly, there are restrictions on when an SMSF can accept an asset as a contribution from a member. These are referred to as “in specie contributions”, which just means contributions to the fund in the form of a non-monetary asset. Generally, an SMSF must not intentionally acquire assets from related parties to the fund; however, there are some specific exceptions.