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AJML Accountants Update – Guide on Trust Part 13

Guide on Trust Funds – Part 13: SMSF vs Trust Funds

In the following table we have compared the benefits and costs associated with having retirement investments in a complying superannuation fund (e.g., an SMSF) with holding these investments in a discretionary trust (with a corporate beneficiary).

Issue to consider SMSF Discretionary trust
Concessional tax treatment for earnings and tax exemption for income and capital gains on pension assets ×
Concessional tax rate on capital gains made from the disposal of investments (1)
Avoiding the application of the45-day holding period rule to qualify for franking credits ×
Avoiding the application of the trust loss measures ×
Freedom to hold any investment deemed appropriate by the trustees ×
Accessing investment returns and capital when deemed necessary by the trustee (i.e., no preservation rules) ×
Avoiding high annual compliance costs (e.g., annual audits and member statements) ×
Avoiding trustee penalties associated with operating the investment structure ×
Avoiding onerous documentation and paperwork requirements (e.g., hold trustee minutes for 10 years) ×
Paying franked dividends to shareholders of the private company (with excess credits being claimed as a refund) ×
Avoiding restrictions associated with making capital contributions into the trust structure ×
Avoiding the application of the deemed dividend rules contained in Division 7A ×
Asset protection benefits associated with making non-concessional (or concessional) contributions to the entity (e.g., superannuation fund) (2) ×
Potential land tax savings where the entity has invested in real property ×

It is important to note that a discretionary trust will generally be entitled to claim the 50% discount re capital gains purpose for assets held for at least 12 months. Refer to division 115 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.