Q: I’ve recently sold two blocks of land and was wondering if it’s best for me to put the proceeds of the sales into a superannuation fund where I draw money from regularly as a pension. I have about $400,000 to invest.
A: Let’s start with those blocks of land. Depending on when you bought them, you might be up for capital gains tax (CGT). How much tax you need to pay will depend on the purchase and sale dates, any costs involved in the purchase and sale, as well as your own income in the year you sold the blocks. The calculations involved aren’t difficult but this is the sort of thing I’d get an accountant to look at. After all, income tax is their bread and butter and it shouldn’t take any half-decent number-cruncher long to work it out.
After you’ve found out whether you’ve got a tax bill heading your way, you can start thinking about what to do with your money. Should you put it into super and start a pension or increase your current super pension? Perhaps. That’s going to depend on a whole range of factors, including your age, your current super balance, whether you’re still working and your retirement plans – all of which make it impossible for me to give you a specific answer. You could do the research yourself because the Australian Tax Office also has all the info you need online.
But if you’d prefer some help from a human, then you’ve got plenty of options. If you engage an accountant to look at your CGT liability, you could ask them for guidance. Problem is, accountants aren’t generally financial advisers and many of them don’t have a clue about retirement planning. You could talk to one of your super fund’s financial advisers as a starting point – most have advisors they make available to members, sometimes as a cost. They should be able to confirm whether you’re eligible to make a super contribution.
It’s also worth talking to Centrelink’s Financial Information Service (FIS). FIS officers can’t give financial advice but they can help with a whole range of issues from understanding superannuation to Age Pension eligibility. It’s also a free service (which your accountant won’t be!).
The main benefit of having a retirement pension is tax or, more specifically, the fact you won’t pay any on your earnings or income. But don’t rule other investment options, such investing in your own name outside superannuation where there are fewer restrictions and more flexibility. There might also be tax benefits in doing so, particularly if you invest in shares paying franked dividends.
Of course, you could just pay a financial advisor to sort all this out for you. But I think there’s merit in learning as much as you can yourself beforehand. That way, you’ll be in the best position to evaluate any advice you’re given.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.