Show download pdf controls
  • Are your members topping up or starting a new pension?

    Some self-managed super fund (SMSF) members have experienced investment losses due to COVID-19, and may be thinking about topping up their pension account, or starting a new pension. If your members are considering this option, ensure they know this action could have consequences on their transfer balance cap.

    Let your members know they will need to check whether they:

    • have met the minimum pension payment standards before commuting the pension in full
    • can top up their pension without exceeding their transfer balance cap.

    To verify both of these points, they will need to understand:

    • the cap space they have now
    • the cap space they will have once they commute their pension.

    For example, if an individual has already started a pension worth $1.6 million or more, they generally cannot start a new pension without exceeding their transfer balance cap, even if the value of their current pension has significantly reduced. Their ability to top up their pension by rolling it back and adding funds before starting a new pension will be limited by the size of the debit they get when they commute their existing pension.

    Your member or their agent can check the amount of space they have in their transfer balance account to start a new pension with, and their other transfer balance account details in ATO online.

    Remind them to take into consideration any credits from reversionary income streams which will impact their transfer balance account in the next 12 months.

    Importantly, you need to also be aware of the reporting obligations that are triggered when rolling back an existing pension and starting a new pension.

    In these situations you will need to report the:

    • commutation debit when your member commutes the existing pension
    • credit when your member starts the new pension.

    Case studies

    Use these case studies to help your member understand how topping up their pension may affect their transfer balance account. They may also help you and your advisor make decisions.

    Working out what cap space you currently have

    Linda started a pension in her SMSF valued at $1.6 million on 1 July 2017. The pension is now worth $1 million due to pension payments and investment losses.

    Linda would like to start an additional pension with $600,000 which she has in her accumulation account. Because Linda has already used up her transfer balance cap, she has no cap space to start a new pension.

    If Linda proceeds with the additional pension, she will exceed her personal transfer balance cap by $600,000 and will need to commute the excess (plus excess transfer balance earnings) and pay excess transfer balance tax.

    What cap space will Linda have when she commutes her pension?

    If Linda commuted her pension, she could get a debit in her transfer balance account of $1 million. After commuting her pension, the balance of her transfer balance account would be $600,000.

    If Linda starts a new pension of $1.6 million (the $1 million she commuted plus the $600,000 in her accumulation account) she will get a credit in her transfer balance account of $1.6 million for the new pension.

    If Linda proceeds she will exceed her personal transfer balance cap by $600,000 and will need to commute the excess (plus excess transfer balance earnings) and pay excess transfer balance tax.

    Consider pending credits from reversionary income streams

    Gilbert started a pension in his SMSF valued at $1.2 million on 1 July 2017. Due to pension payments and investment losses the pension is now worth $900,000.

    Gilbert would like to top up this pension by rolling it back and adding the $200,000 in his accumulation account. If Gilbert were to do this, he would get a debit of $900,000, bringing the balance of his account to $300,000.

    When he starts the new pension he would get a credit of $1.1 million in his transfer balance account, giving him an account balance of $1.4 million.

    On 1 June 2019 Gilbert’s wife, Anne passed away and he started to receive a reversionary death benefit income stream on that date. The value of the pension at the time of Anne’s death was $400,000. On 1 June 2020 a credit of $400,000 will apply to Gilbert’s transfer balance account, even though the value of the pension has reduced to $300,000 due to investment losses.

    Gilbert needs to take this into consideration when choosing what to do next.

    If Gilbert does nothing, he will be able to continue to receive the reversionary pension without exceeding his personal transfer balance cap. However, if Gilbert tops up his pension, on 1 June 2020, he will exceed his personal transfer balance cap, by $200,000 unless he commutes either pension before 1 June 2020. If he exceeds his transfer balance cap he will need to commute the excess, plus excess transfer balance earnings, and pay excess transfer balance tax.

    See also:

    Keep up to date:

      Last modified: 18 May 2020QC 62647