There are strategies to ensure your children get the maximum benefits.
Since its inception, many baby boomers have accumulated big super balances. In some cases, their super balances may be approaching, or even exceed, the value of the family home. But unlike the home, which is free of death taxes, super’s 17% death benefit tax applies to adult children. There are, however, strategies to reduce its impact. First, you need to understand;
- Which beneficiaries will be taxed;
- How they will be taxed; and
- What you can do about it.
Basically, no tax is payable on super death benefits directed to your spouse, including de facto, someone financially dependent on you, a child under 18 (or older if a financially dependent student) or someone you have an interdependency relationship with. The rest get taxed.
When your money goes into super, it is broken down into a taxable component and a tax-free component. The taxable component is comprised of all pre-tax contributions (i.e. your employer’s super guarantee, salary sacrifice or any contributions you have claimed a tax deduction on) and the earnings generated on the taxable component. The only proportion that is tax-free is your after-tax non-concessional contributions.
Death benefits tax will only apply to money in the taxable component of super. Tax payable on the taxable component is 15% plus the 2% Medicare levy. The Medicare levy can be avoided if the death benefit is paid through the deceased estate.
One common strategy to minimise the tax is to withdraw an amount from super and recontribute it as a non-concessional contribution. By doing so you, you are converting the taxable component into a tax-free component. The rules are complex so it’s recommended you seek advice. It all comes down to whether you are eligible to take out a lump sum and then whether you are eligible to recontribute it.
Other strategies involve pulling money out of super and into your personal bank account. It is then paid out to the beneficiaries as per the distribution of the Will and there is no tax. This option can be useful especially if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Again, be careful, as there can be tax consequences of pulling large amounts of money out of super and leaving it in your own name.
Given the complexity of the rules, it is vital you get professional advice first.
Please note the above is provided as general advice, it has not taken your personal or financial circumstances into consideration. If you would like more tailored advice, please contact us today.