Borrowing strategies for a SMSF

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SMSF members wanting to expand their investment portfolio are able to borrow money through their SMSF to purchase these assets.

Assets available to an SMSF include business real property, as well as shares and managed funds – however the usual superannuation rules continue to apply where the fund is purchasing an asset from a related party.

Some SMSF borrowing strategies

There are a number of strategies that enable individuals to take advantage of the rules.

Increasing the asset base. Contributions rules place a limit on the amount of contributions that may be contributed to a fund. In addition, an investment in the SMSF borrowing arrangement is generally accounted for as net of liabilities. Where members are in a position to contribute assets such as property or shares this has the effect of enhancing SMSF borrowing.

Increased contributions. Members may be able to transfer assets that they own into a fund, taking advantage of the borrowing rules. Members are then able to act as Trustee of the borrowing trust as well as the lender. The repayments made by the SMSF may then be contributed back into the fund by the member under the normal contribution rules.

Costs of finance

Financial products are readily available by lenders to take advantage of the rules allowing funds to borrow for investing. These products take into account the rules that only allow a loan to be secured against the investment it is funding, not total fund assets.

As a result of the higher risk profile, loans may attract a higher interest rate and require a deposit significantly higher than usually occurs with other standard investment loans. Trustees need to factor these risks and costs into their borrowing strategy.

The loan and the lender

SMSFs are able to use anybody as a lender, that is, they are able to obtain the loan from a bank, or other lending institutions, a member themselves, their business, a family member, company or trust. However while the law does not prevent the lender from being a related party, SMSFs must satisfy the sole purpose test and comply with existing investment restrictions such as those applying to in-house assets and prohibitions on acquiring certain assets from a related party of the fund.