Figures show SMSF trustees plan for retirement ‘responsibly’

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Figures from the Australian Tax Office show SMSF trustees are taking responsibility for their own retirement, with total yearly benefit payments averaging $18.9 billion per annum over the five years to June 2012.

The SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia (SPAA) says these findings are “another nail in the coffin” of rumours that SMSF members withdraw their super as a lump sum as soon as possible, so as to move on to the aged pension.

The figures show that in 2012 the average benefit payment was $99,000 a year and the median payment was $52,000 a year.

“From SPAA’s perspective this is strong evidence that SMSF trustees are using their superannuation correctly. They are funding their retirement in a responsible way by drawing income streams when they reach retirement,” Director of technical and professional standards Graeme Colley said in a press release yesterday.

“[Trustees] are looking at their SMSFs in their totality so as to be self-sufficient in retirement, appreciating they are, on average, going to live for about 20 years in retirement.”

Colley says there has also been a 15% increase in the number of new funds established in the five years to June 2012, with more new SMSFs paying pensions in their first year of operation.

“This would suggest people want to take direct responsibility for handling their retirement incomes, a trend SPAA encourages. Our only proviso is that these people appreciate everything that’s involved in being an SMSF trustee, and, if necessary, seek professional advice.”