One the great furphies of superannuation that has (tragically) become widely believed – often by people who should know better – is that self-managed funds have a tax advantage over APRA-regulated funds.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that on all of the key tax measures for superannuation, the 15% rate on concessional contributions, the 15% tax rate in the accumulation phase and tax-free pension income, are exactly the same for SMSFs and APRA funds. End of story.
In regards to capital gains tax (CGT), the same small business concessions are available to SMSF members and APRA-regulated fund members, and SMSFs holding business real property are subject to the same CGT rules as other funds holding property investments. The only slight difference between APRA funds and SMSFs in regards to CGT is that the former can enjoy having capital gains and losses rolled-over where they merge with other funds. There is no equivalent roll-over for SMSFs that merge.
In other words, the only difference between APRA funds and SMSFs on tax issues is one that advantages the former. Perhaps the more pertinent question to ask is why this perception of SMSFs getting tax advantages is so widespread.
Leaving aside the issue of certain vested interests pushing this line, perhaps it’s best explained by the Labor’s Party’s recent proposal to impose a 15% tax on earnings above $75,000 in the pension phase. When this was announced many assumed it only targeted SMSFs, when, in fact, it covered anyone in the pension phase irrespective of what type of fund they had. What this suggests is that because changes to the tax rules relating to superannuation can often have a disproportional effect on SMSFs because of their larger balances, then it is simply assumed their tax treatment does differ.
Having different regulators (SMSFs come under the umbrella of the ATO) probably encourages this false assumption. The simple fact is all funds fundamentally have the same tax treatment, a state of affairs the SMSF Association fully endorses.
Jordan George, SMSF Association.