Speaking in a podcast, SMSF Academy director Aaron Dunn said there has been a significant increase in the use of software-generated pension documents within the SMSF industry, with an estimated two-thirds of all SMSF practices using these documents.
While there may not be any issues with using these documents, Mr Dunn said it is vital that SMSF practitioners ensure these pension documents are lined up with the governing rules of the fund.
If the pension documents are not aligned with the governing rules of the fund, and the pension is not being paid in accordance with those rules, there is a risk the income stream could miss out on the pension exemption, he warned.
“The commissioner makes it very clear inside tax ruling TR 2013/5 that where a member fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the income stream, let alone the SIS regulations, then a pension would ordinarily fail,” Mr Dunn explained.
The way in which the pension documents have been drafted, he said, will also affect what strategies an SMSF is able to adopt.
“An example that has come to the fore in the past few years is the ability to alter the terms and conditions of that income stream without having any detrimental impact on entitlements that the individual might be able to receive,” he said.
“If we think about income streams that existed prior to 1 January 2015, it has been confirmed that if we add a reversionary beneficiary to a pre January 2015 pension, the grandfathering that is attached to that income stream from a Centrelink point of view will actually carry on. “
The only way to make any alteration if this was not allowed under the terms and conditions imposed by the deed, he said would therefore be to "commute and repurchase" the pension, if for example, they wanted to add a reversionary beneficiary.
"That in itself is going to increase some of the reporting to the ATO [under events-based reporting] because we’re going to see commutations and repurchases and if we don’t complete that within the prescribed time frames once we get past the transitional period, there would of course be lots of administrative penalties around that as well,” he warned.
Mr Dunn said pension documentation is an area requiring far greater attention with the new superannuation reforms.
“I’d be encouraging you to go back and look at what the governing rules of the fund say, and how the documentation that you might be generating from your SMSF software correlates back to the deed, and if there’s any doubts with that, you may want to contemplate how you might need to tie that information back up together.”