4 Quarterly 2011 - Issue 4

Posted on 21 December 2011

Securing Your Self Managed Super

Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) are becoming increasingly popular as retail super funds continue to struggle. This has been aided by the federal government supporting a growth in SMSFs in recent years by enabling SMSFs to borrow to acquire certain assets. With the change in the rules of SMSFs being able to borrow funds to invest there has been a rapid growth in SMSFs buying real estate.

An important tip that we often see people overlook is to ensure that there is proper verification of the ownership of the assets by the SMSF. In NSW it is not possible to register a property in the name of a trust – it must be in the name of the trustee. A SMSF is a form of trust. Accordingly it is important to ensure that your SMSF is compliant and can properly establish its ownership of the assets. The most prudent way to achieve this with property is to have the SMSF lodge a caveat over the property and/ or have a declaration of trust document executed regarding the specific property. This can sometimes be overlooked when acquiring the property and can cause significant problems (including taxation consequences) for the SMSF if it is not done.

If you are considering (or already have) a SMSF you should ensure that you are receiving appropriate legal, financial and taxation advice about the set up and management of your SMSF.

First Home Owners - Exemptions No More?

Currently, people wanting to purchase their first home or vacant land on which they intend to build their first home are entitled to exemptions and concessions from paying stamp duty on the purchase under the First Home Plus Scheme. Exemptions are currently available for properties valued up to $500,000 and land valued up to $300,000. Concessions are available for properties valued between $500,000 to $600,000 and land valued between $300,000 and $450,000.

From 1 January 2012, this scheme will be replaced by the First Home – New Home Scheme. An agreement or transfer to purchase your fi rst home will only be eligible for the concession or exemption if the home is (a) a first home; and (b) a new home, a substantially renovated home (that has been unoccupied since the renovations) or vacant land intended to be used as the site for a new home.

The current value limits detailed above will continue to apply to the new scheme.

First Home Plus exemptions and concessions will continue to apply in relation to agreements to purchase an existing home entered into before 1 January 2012. If you require any assistance in purchasing your first home, please contact us.

So You Think You Can Drive?

Everyone hopes they will never be in the situation where they lose their licence. As the Christmas season approaches so too does the longest continuous period of the double demerit scheme. The penalties during this time are significant. E.G. if you are caught speeding less than 15km/h you would normally accrue 3 demerit points however during double demerits it would result in the accrual of 6 points. If you are involved in two such offences or are on a learner or provisional drivers licence you could find yourself without a licence.

There is also a higher police presence on the roads therefore the chance of getting caught is higher. Other offences such as drink driving and speeding 30km/h or more can result in an immediate loss of licence.

What is important to know is if your licence is suspended or you are disqualified from driving you MUST NOT drive during that period. If you do drive and are caught then you could face a heavy fine, 18 months imprisonment and a 12 month licence suspension and if it is a second major traffic offence then the penalties are much more severe.

If your licence is suspended for any period of time, either by a court or the RTA, at the end of your suspension period go to the RTA (don’t drive there!) to renew your licence and confirm that you are able to drive BEFORE driving again. Ignorance is no defence and the consequences car be dire.

Merry Sexmas!

With the Christmas Season upon us, so looms the annual staff Christmas party. Whilst this is an opportunity to celebrate the year and have some fun, a few too many drinks can remove inhibitions and lead to some very unwelcome and inappropriate behaviour by staff or management.

Accordingly here is a timely reminder that sexual harassment and discrimination laws apply to conduct at your staff Christmas party.

Sexual Harassment includes unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature such as comments of a sexual nature, sexual innuendo and of course unwelcome sexual advances and unwelcome requests for sexual favours. Unfortunately behaviour of this nature does still occur at some work Christmas parties and whilst it may be done in humour when everyone is having a good time it can still be a breach of the discrimination and workplace laws and employees and employers alike can fi nd themselves in serious trouble for their actions or the actions of their employees.

If you are subject to unwanted behaviour during work or during a work related function you do not have to tolerate it. You should report it to your immediate manager or your Human Resources person. If no appropriate action is taken by your Employer then you may be able to seek outside assistance to deal with the matter. If you are involved in any such incident you should immediately obtain legal advice.