As retirement approaches, many Australians are eager to make the most of their hard-earned assets and superannuation funds to secure a comfortable future. It’s a wise move, given the importance of proper retirement planning. However, it’s crucial to be cautious because there are unscrupulous individuals and schemes out there that target retirees and prospective retirees with the promise of tax-free income through self-managed super funds (SMSFs).
These retirement planning schemes may appear to be a quick and easy way to boost your retirement income, but they often involve illegal tactics that can jeopardize your entire retirement savings. The risks are real, and anyone, regardless of their financial situation, can fall victim to these schemes. This is especially true for those aged 50 and over, including:
- SMSF Trustees
- Self-funded retirees
- Small business owners
- Professional service providers
- Individuals involved in property investment
To safeguard your financial future, it’s essential to recognize the common features of retirement planning schemes. These schemes often:
- Are artificially complex and encourage the use of SMSFs as part of the scheme.
- Involve excessive paperwork and complicated transactions.
- Promise minimal or zero tax liability or even a tax refund.
- Claim to provide immediate tax benefits through the arrangement.
- Sound too good to be true – because they usually are.
Currently, several schemes specifically target individuals with self-managed super funds due to the high level of control and autonomy they have over their retirement savings. Here are some examples of retirement planning schemes:
- Arrangements involving SMSFs and related-party property development ventures.
- Refunding excess non-concessional contributions to reduce taxable components.
- Granting legal life interest over a commercial property to SMSFs.
- Dividend stripping.
- Non-arm’s length limited recourse borrowing arrangements.
- Personal services income.
- Liquidating an SMSF.
To protect yourself from falling prey to a retirement planning scheme, it’s crucial to seek professional advice from a specialized accountant with expertise in superannuation and SMSFs. Additionally, consider the following steps:
- Consult with a reputable source: Reach out to financial planners, advisers, or accountants with proven professional qualifications and certifications.
- Stay informed: Keep yourself updated on current tax and super laws to understand your rights and responsibilities.
- Avoid quick fixes: Be cautious of any scheme or arrangement that promises unrealistic tax benefits or returns.
Retirement is a time for enjoying the fruits of your labour, not for jeopardising your financial security. By staying vigilant and seeking expert guidance, you can ensure that your retirement planning is on the right path without falling for risky schemes that may put your hard-earned savings in jeopardy.