The right questions to ask yourself in June | May 2017

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Robin Bowerman

The right questions to ask yourself in June

30 May 2017 | Retirement and superannuation

Written by Robin Bowerman, Head of Market Strategy and Communications at Vanguard/Board Director of the SMSF Association

June is a favourite month.

It is an important marker: the year's mid-point when you can reflect on progress made to date yet still with enough time left to achieve more before the year draws to a close.

Until you talk tax. Then June takes on more urgency.

It is the end of the financial year, the end of another tax year and time for some serious chats with the accountant.

When it comes to investing, a very important measure is the after-tax return. Because that is the figure you get to put in the bank, reinvest or use to fund your lifestyle in retirement.

Tax is one of the big costs investors have to take into account. And it is no surprise that tax can influence investors' behavior given Australia's relatively high marginal tax rates.

As we approach June 30, 2017, there are a range of tax changes that will take affect from July that will many people will be pondering. The changes to superannuation are a great example.

From July 1, the changes announced in the 2016 federal budget come into effect.

The big changes are that there will be a $1.6 million cap on the amount each of us can have in their tax-free superannuation pension account. It is also the time when the concessional contributions levels are reduced to $25,000 per financial year (where they were previously $30,000).

Finally the other major change to super is that the amount you can contribute as a non-concessional contribution drops to $100,000 a year or $300,000 over three years. That is down significantly from the previous level of $540,000 over three years.

For those fortunate enough to have the resources available now, this presents a range of tax planning opportunities.

Superannuation is taxed at concessional rates but clearly the government policy direction is restricting how much money you can get into the system to take advantage of those concessional rates.

For younger people the tax appeal comes with a considerable trade-off as you are locking the funds away until retirement - for some that will mean decades.

Those people who are closer to retirement are likely to see the rule changes as presenting a stronger case for taking action because once the sun sets on June 30, that opportunity will be lost or reduced.

But like all investment decisions, while tax is an important factor, it is not the only factor. One of the real benefits of a tax deadline like we are dealing with in 2017 can be that it makes you seek out professional advice to answer questions you have.

Perhaps the question is as simple as 'should I contribute a lump sum into my super before the limits drop or pay down my mortgage?' Even better if this issue raises the question of what is your long-term financial plan. When are you hoping to retire, how much income will you need to maintain or support your lifestyle?

Which is why in the run up to June 30 getting professional financial advice could be money invested wisely.



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