Tougher superannuation rules may create an unintended spike in risky property borrowing by those with a self-managed super fund, with experts suggesting that the changes will force SMSFs to load up on debt in an attempt to increase returns.
While there are still incentives for people to wanting to own property within their SMSF, under the new rules announced in the 2016 Federal Budget, rather than being able to fund investments through their own equity, many SMSFs will be forced to take on more debt to do so.
Most of the superannuation changes are due to take effect from 1 July 2017. They include a $1.6 million limit on the amount that can be transferred from a super accumulation account into a retirement account and a new lifetime limit on non-concessional (after-tax) contributions of $500,000, backdated to 2007, which took effect on budget night.
In most cases, super funds are not allowed to borrow. The exception is the limited recourse borrowing arrangement, which is only allowed in Australia’s SMSF sector.
Since 2013, the Reserve Bank of Australia has expressed concerns over the number of SMSFs taking on debt to invest in property. More recently, the ATO has cracked down on SMSFs that don’t qualify for bank finance turning to related-party loans to buy property.