Most Australians feel comfortable with the knowledge that unlike other countries (such as the USA) there is no inheritance tax here… but is this really true? One area where tax may be paid on inherited assets is with your superannuation, which many people don’t realise. This is because your inherited superannuation is taxed differently depending on whether the recipient is a superannuation dependant and/or a tax dependant. Without getting too technical the rules can be summarised like this for when you inherit a superannuation lump sum:
- If you are both a superannuation and a taxation dependant you will not pay tax on the inherited lump sum.
- If you are a superannuation dependant but not a tax dependant, a 15% tax will be paid on the taxable component of the lump sum and the tax-free component will be received tax free.
- If you are not a superannuation dependant then you cannot directly inherit superannuation and it must be paid to the estate first.
Note: the taxable component comes about from employer, self-employed and salary sacrifice contributions. The tax-free component comes about from when you put your own money into super after tax. Unless you are putting your own cash into your superannuation account, your account will be mostly (if not all) taxable component. So now the question… Who is a tax dependant and who is a superannuation dependant? The following people are both tax and superannuation dependants and so no tax is payable on inherited lump sums:
- Your spouse by marriage
- Your defacto spouse
- Your same sex spouse
- Your children aged under 18
- Someone who is financially dependant on you
- Someone with whom you have an interdependency relationship (for example a brother and sister who live together)
This leaves the main group of people who are superannuation dependants but who are not taxation dependants… your adult children! Yes that’s right, if your adult children inherit your superannuation lump sum (if you outlive any spouse or partner) they will pay 15% tax on the taxable component of your superannuation, which for many people will mean 15% tax on the entire superannuation balance. If you pass away with say $200,000 this will mean paying up to $30,000 in unnecessary tax to the ATO. But why do I say unnecessary tax? Well there is a simple strategy that you can use to reduce or even eliminate any ‘inheritance’ tax that your adult children may pay on your superannuation. This strategy is effective mainly if you are aged 60-64 but if you are aged 55 or above there is a chance that you can also make use of the strategy to reduce the ‘inheritance’ tax. If you’d like to find out more about this strategy, why not speak to the team at AJ Financial Planning? Our free no obligation consultation could save your loved ones being taxed on their inheritance!