The Budget confirmed that the maximum number of allowable members in new and existing self managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) and small APRA funds will be expanded from four to six members from 1 July 2019.
The proposed increase to the maximum number of SMSF members seeks to provide greater flexibility for large families to jointly manage retirement savings. Given the growth in the sector to date, The measure will ensure SMSFs remain compelling retirement savings vehicle. The Government is expected to ask the ATO to work with industry on the design and implementation of this measure. It is not expected to have a revenue impact.
Extra SMSF members to provide flexibility Currently, s 17A(1)(a) of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SIS Act) requires an SMSF to have fewer than five members. In addition, each member must be a trustee of the fund (or a director of the corporate trustee). This seeks to ensure that all members are fully involved and equally responsible for fund decisions and investments.
The Government’s proposal to allow up to six SMSF members may assist those with larger families to implement intergenerational solutions for managing long-term, capital intensive investments, such as commercial property and business real property. For example, allowing an extra two members provides an opportunity to improve a fund’s cash flow by using the contributions of the younger members to make pension payments to the members in retirement phase, without needing to sell a long-term investment.
As each member must be a trustee of the fund, a decision to add extra members should not be taken lightly as it can add complexity to the fund’s management and investment strategy. A change to the membership of an SMSF will alter the trustee arrangements which can impact who controls the fund in the event of a dispute. This is especially relevant in the event of the death of a member, as the surviving trustees have considerable discretion as to the payment of the deceased’s super benefits (subject to any binding death benefit nomination).
Source: Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting