Six members still on table, ECPI move delayed

Six member SMSFs

Six member SMSFs are still on the table for the government, which has reduced the time in which they can be introduced once legislation is passed.

The federal government has indicated it remains supportive of moves to introduce a six-member rule for SMSFs, despite not having any legislation to enable that change currently before parliament.

Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar announced the government had revised the start dates for two superannuation measures relating to the increase of members within an SMSF or small Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) fund and the treatment of assets when calculating exempt current pension income (ECPI).

Under previous proposals put forward by the government, the maximum number of allowable members in an SMSF or small APRA fund would increase from four to six.

The idea was first presented as part of the 2018 federal budget, but was dropped from a Treasury Laws Amendment Bill in April 2019, and in January this year the ATO ended preparations for its introduction as legislation had not been reintroduced into parliament after the May 2019 federal election.

Despite this, Sukkar said the start date for the measure has been moved from 1 July 2019 to the date of royal assent of the enabling legislation.

While the government has not indicated when it might introduce legislation, Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology Jane Hume said at the SMSF Association National Conference in February that introducing the change remains a policy of the government.

Sukkar also said the government had pushed out the date for changes related to the treatment of assets when calculating ECPI. These changes were due to take effect from 1 July 2020, but now have a revised start date of 1 July 2021.

The two measures, which were introduced as part of the 2019 budget, would allow trustees to choose how to segregate an asset for tax purposes, and  would amend disregarded small fund assets rules inside taxation law so that funds solely in retirement phase do not require an actuary’s certificate to claim ECPI.

Sukkar said the revised start dates “provide clarity and certainty for taxpayers and superannuation fund managers”.

“These revisions are a result of the reprioritisation of government resources and the shortened parliamentary sitting period in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis,” he added.

On a related note, Hume also reminded SMSF members that regulations that allow people aged 65 and 66 to make voluntary concessional and non-concessional contributions without meeting the work test and that allow people up to age 75 to receive spouse contributions were now in effect.

These changes were announced as part of the 2019 budget and apply from 1 July 2020, while another proposed change to allow people aged 65 and 66 to make up to three years of non-concessional contributions under the bring-forward rule remains before parliament as part of legislation that has yet to pass.

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