Simple Super, Now Super Complicated

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It has been a decade since the Simple Super Reforms, introduced on 1 July 2007, reshaped the retirement savings landscape. Over the years, the “Simplified Superannuation” system has evolved into a complex web of legislation, presenting challenges for SMSF accountants navigating its intricacies.

From 1 July 2017, running an SMSF became more complicated, and the new raft of reporting obligations and total superannuation balance calculations has created some new acronyms to drop in on the following BBQ conversation, including:

  • TBA: transfer balance account – this tracks transactions and amounts in the retirement phase, and this determines whether you have exceeded your TBC on any day
  • TBC: transfer balance cap – this is a limit on how much can be held in the retirement phase across all of your super accounts, including your SMSF; the cap will start at $1.6m
  • TBAR: transfer balance account report – this is the reporting mechanism by which the ATO will track each person’s TBC and TSB
  • TSB: total super balance (across all super accounts) regardless of whether held in an SMSF, retail fund, industry fund or defined benefit fund
  • RTRIS – Retirement Phase Transition to Retirement Income Stream where the tax exemption on earnings remain
  • TRIS – Transition to Retirement Income Stream where the tax exemption on earnings is removed and will be taxed at 15%

As such, it is more important than ever to engage with your administrator regularly rather than annually to ensure that you advise them of your non-SMSF balances so we can correctly report your fund’s contributions, pensions and other reportable events by the due date.

Here is a summary of the new changes which may require reporting to the ATO from 1 July 2017:


  • Notify your employer to reduce salary sacrifice amounts to stay within the $25,000 cap for everyone
    • this is even more important if you are contributing to more than one fund and/or your employer is paying your insurance premiums
  • Personal super deductions of up to $25,000 will be available to everyone
    • the 10% test has been removed
    • documentation must still be completed in writing and lodged on time to ensure you are eligible to claim the deduction
  • Before making Non-Concessional Contributions, you need to check total super balances and not just within your SMSF to ensure:
    • you don’t exceed the $1.6m transfer balance cap as of 30 June 2017 and/or
    • you are within your 2018 contribution caps whilst taking into account your contribution history
  • Repayments of Limited Recourse Borrowing Arrangement (“LRBA”) debt from an accumulation interest are to be treated as a “credit” to the TBA of the member.
  • Ensure your employer reports your contributions using the correct Electronic Service Address (“ESA”) for your SMSF as part of the SuperStream obligations.


  • If you have an existing Account Based Pension (“ABP”) or Transition to Retirement Pensions (“TRIS”) over $1.6m and you have not made the irrevocable election by 30 June 2017 to commute the excess back to accumulation to or below this limit, penalties may apply
  • Non-retirement TRIS
    • continue to have the 10% maximum withdrawal limit each year
    • investment earnings on assets will now be taxed up to 15%
    • does not count towards the TBA
  • Retirement TRIS
    • continue to have the 10% maximum withdrawal limit each year
    • investment earnings on assets are now tax exempt
    • does it count towards the TBA
      • TRIS’ are not automatically converted to ABPs – additional pension documentation is required upon meeting a condition of release
  • Any new pensions that have commenced or existing pensions commuted on or after 1 July 2017 need to be reported to the ATO under the TBAR event-based reporting requirements.
    • SMSFs with total super account balances of less than $1 million can choose to report events which impact its members’ transfer balances at the same time the fund lodges its annual return;
    •  SMSFs with members with total super account balances of $1 million or more, events impacting members’ transfer balances will need to be reported within 28 days after the end of the quarter in which the event occurs.

Lump Sum Payments

  • Pension payments can no longer be treated as lump sums for tax purposes to take advantage of the low rate cap threshold.
  • Where more than the annual minimum pension is required, members may elect to receive a pension commutation/lump sum payment which may have a more favourable impact on their TBA.

Death of a Member

  • Under these new reforms, the death of a member may limit the amount that can be retained in the SMSF, especially if the surviving spouse’s balance is more significant than $1.6m. The importance of Death Benefit Nominations in combination with Reversionary or Non-Reversionary Pensions must be carefully considered.

Kreston Stanley Williamson Team

*Correct as of January 2018

Disclaimer – Kreston Stanley Williamson has produced this article to serve its clients and associates. The information contained in the article is of general comment only and is not intended to be advice on any particular matter. Before acting on any areas in this article, you must seek advice about your circumstances. Liability is limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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