You recently wrote about a couple who were both over 60. He withdrew $660,000 from his super fund and you said $515,000 of that would be taxable. Am I correct in thinking that is because he is over 60 and alive so he will not have to pay the death tax on the component? You also mentioned that the fund's earnings become part of the taxable component either in accumulation mode or pension mode. I could understand that if the earnings are in accumulation mode as the fund is paying 15 per cent tax, irrespective of age. Is there another 15 per cent tax applicable when the member dies if the balance is left to a non-dependent?
There are two issues here - the death tax on money left to a non-dependent and the calculation of the taxable and non-taxable components. A member benefit or a death benefit can have very different tax consequences. The former is a payment made in the normal course of business to a living member of a superannuation fund. A typical example is a payment to a member when they meet a condition of release such as retirement. This would normally be received tax free.
When the member is alive the components inside the fund may be taxable and non-taxable. Concessional contributions for which somebody has claimed a tax deduction and all fund earnings are part of the taxable component. The non-taxable component derives from non-concessional contributions which are normally made from after-tax dollars and from downsizing contributions. There is no entry tax on these contributions.
If the death benefit is paid to a non-dependent the tax is 15 per cent, plus Medicare levy. It's easily avoided by giving your power of attorney authority to withdraw your entire balance before you die and deposit it in your bank account.
We are retired and are self-funded. I have an allocated pension worth $600,000 from which I draw $1500 a fortnight (non taxable) and dividends from the shares in my name of $18,200 a year. I use the imputation credits to pay the tax. It is my understanding that if I sell any shares the capital profit will be added to my taxable income. Is there any way I can reduce or avoid having it added to my income?
The capital profit will be added to your taxable income in the year of sale less 50 per cent discount if you've owned the shares for more than a year.
What's great about shares is you can sell them in small parcels to minimise or eliminate capital gains tax and if some shares have a capital loss, you can arrange the transaction so any losses can be offset against the gains.
Talk to your accountant.