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Collectable and personal use assets in SMSFs

Did your SMSF purchase fine wine, a vintage car, a jet ski, or artwork prior to 1 July 2011?

It must have seemed like a dream come true to be able to invest in your passion through your SMSF and then enjoy your investment. Sadly, the dream is over. In less than 15 months, by 1 July 2016, your investment is something you can no longer enjoy.

“Why is this so?” you ask.

The sole purpose of superannuation is to provide retirement and ancillary benefits to members. By investing in and enjoying a collectable or personal use asset, SMSF members gain a pre-retirement benefit that goes against the spirit of the sole purpose test. As a result, the superannuation law was tightened from 1 July 2011, so that any collectables and personal use assets acquired by an SMSF from this date onwards cannot be used by or leased to members of the SMSF.

Additionally, these assets cannot be stored in a private residence of any member, nor displayed at a member’s place of business as this would mean the assets are being used by the member. You can, however, use certain premises owned by a member such as a storage facility. The trustees of the SMSF must document their decision on where the assets are stored and keep their documented decision for ten years. On top of that, trustees have to take out insurance for these assets within seven days of their SMSF acquiring them.

The government provided a five year transitional period for SMSFs that acquired these assets prior to 1 July 2011. These SMSFs do not have to comply with the new restrictions until 1 July 2016. If you are currently enjoying these items, come 1 July 2016, you will have to comply with the new requirements. You can also no longer lease them from your SMSF.

What happens if you don’t comply with the new restrictions?

Non-compliance with the law is an offence that can result in a fine of $1,700 for each trustee of an SMSF. Not only that, the Tax Office can also take other compliance actions on you and your SMSF.

So don’t leave things to the last minute. You need to think about whether you want to comply with the superannuation law requirements or sell these assets. If you decide to purchase these assets from your SMSF yourself, then you will need to do so at the market rate prior to 1 July 2016. If you purchase them from your SMSF on or after 1 July 2016, then you will need to have them independently valued prior to the purchase.

Monica Rule is an SMSF Specialist and author of The Self Managed Super Handbook. See www.monicarule.com.au. This article is general information and does not address the circumstances of any individual.
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