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Defined benefit pensions ‘a sleeper issue’

Defined benefit pensions ‘a sleeper issue’

Miranda Brownlee
22 December 2016

Technical experts, including PwC, fear many SMSF trustees who also have defined benefit pensions are confused about how these pensions will impact upon their $1.6 million cap, or are even entirely unaware of their impact.

SuperConcepts executive manager of SMSF technical and private wealth Graeme Colley told SMSF Adviser there is a reasonable number of people who have previously worked in positions such as ambulance officers or teachers and are confused about how these defined benefit pensions will be impacted by the caps.

“It may only be a small amount but it does impact upon the balance caps. So those people that have been in those types of funds need to be aware that will be taken into account in relation to the valuation of the $1.6 million cap,” said Mr Colley.

“Many of them do understand that but I think it’s a little bit of a sleeper for some people, who may have been a public servant for a short time many years ago and have still got some benefits in a public sector superannuation fund or maybe one of the big corporate funds.”

Those SMSF trustees need to understand the way in which those pensions are valued under the new rules is different from account-based pensions, he said. 

PwC director of private clients Liz Westover has also seen a lot of confusion around defined benefit income streams and how they are dealt with under the transfer balance cap or the pension caps.

Ms Westover said understanding how defined benefit pensions interact with other sorts of funds is particularly difficult.

“For example, we’ve got clients who have defined benefit funds and SMSFs, and constitutionally protected funds,” she said.

Some clients might have a combination of two or three of those particular types of funds and may be receiving income streams from all of them, she said, so determining how they all interact together to come up with the right outcome in compliance with the law for these clients can be a complex process.

“A lot of them are easy to deal with in isolation, but when you’re trying to combine a number of them, it means actually crunching through the numbers and getting clients to understand it,” she said.

Defined benefit pensions ‘a sleeper issue’
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