Lack of detail on proposed LRBA ban causing strategy roadblocks
The lack of detail surrounding Labor’s proposal to ban SMSF borrowing arrangements is making it difficult for SMSF clients to implement strategies, particularly the purchase of business premises through their SMSF, says an advice firm.
In April 2017, Labor announced it would restore the general ban on direct borrowing by superannuation funds as recommended by the Financial System Inquiry.
In a policy document outlining its plans for housing affordability, Labor said ignoring the recommendation by the Financial System Inquiry “would leave the budget more exposed over time”.
“Borrowing by superannuation funds implicitly transfers some of the downside risk to taxpayers, who underwrite adverse outcomes in the superannuation system through the provision of the age pension,” Labor stated at the time.
Speaking to SMSF Adviser, Hewison Private Wealth director Chris Morcom said there hasn’t been much detail released about this proposal since it was announced and with the election only weeks away, it is impacting the ability of SMSF clients to make long-term investment decisions.
If Labor does win the election, Mr Morcom said, it is unclear what the requirements would be with this measure in terms of whether SMSFs will need to unwind their limited recourse borrowing arrangements (LRBAs) or whether all existing arrangements would be grandfathered.
“One of the issues I have [with the policy], is that if you go off and make a significant investment decision such as to buy a property for your business premises, its not something you do for the short-term. Generally, those financing arrangements are for a fairly significant time-frame,” said Mr Morcom.
“If there’s going to be no grandfathering of those arrangements then that could be a real problem.”
While Mr Morcom said SMSFs who were already planning to enter an LRBA in the short-term should to do so sooner rather than later, he also warned against making significant changes to strategies purely on the basis that a proposed policy may become law.
“We’ve seen enough times where the government of the day hasn’t been able to get proposed policies let alone the opposition, so I think there's a fair bit of water to go under the bridge before we can have some certainty around these measures,” he said.
“History is littered with policy proposals that never actually got legislated.”
Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.
Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates. Miranda has also directed SMSF Adviser's print publication for several years.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.