Saturday, September 22, 2018

Longer Term Planning

I was rejected for the two jobs I recent applied for. One in Australia after interview and one in the UK pre-interview. So, it looks like we stay in Australia in this city for the moment. It also looks like I will continue in my job next year, but I am seriously thinking about "retiring" at the end of 2019 when I will be 55.

Hopefully, the probate situation is finalized before the end of this year and we can start to restructure our finances. This is what I am thinking to do:

1. We will need to set up a trust account or something less formal for little Moomin for the relatively small amount of money he will inherit. Need to wait to hear what we need to do. According to the will, he won't get the money till he's 23 years old...

2. Almost pay off our mortgage and then redraw it and use it to pay off margin debt and add to a trading account. We can then deduct the mortgage interest from our taxes and it is a lower interest rate than the current margin loan.

3. Set up a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) and roll my existing Colonial First State superannuation fund into it as well as contributing AUD 300k for each of me and Moominmama. This would then have about AUD 900k to start with. The reason to go down the road of self-managed super is to be able to invest in managed futures, which are a tax ineffective investment outside super. We would put all our high tax investments into the fund as well as some Australian shares with franking credits to reduce the tax.

4. Scale trading up to full size. At the moment, I am thinking we will need to set up a company for trading. Corporation tax on small businesses is 27.5% vs. top personal marginal rates of 47% +.* My understanding is that you don't need to pay out all profits as dividends and so retained earnings are more lightly taxed. But I will need advice on this. It would also protect the rest of our assets against something catastrophic happening. The company could also be the trustee for the superannuation fund, which would allow us to maintain the SMSF if we left Australia.** These are just my current understandings – obviously I am going to need to get professional advice on all of this.

5. Estate planning. Currently we don't even have wills. This is an area I know little about but will need to deal with. What I want to avoid is the situation we faced with my mother where the government dictated investment policy to us after she wasn't capable of making decisions - despite giving us power of attorney.

* The downside of companies is that they don't get a capital gains tax discount. Individual investors in Australia only pay half the marginal rate on capital gains on investments held for more than a year. But the advantage of only paying 27.5 or 30% tax on trading income rather than 47% tax before investing it in other investments outweighs the discount. If Labor reduce the discount, this will be even more the case.

** You can't be the trustee of an SMSF if you aren't resident in Australia. Using a corporate trustee gets around that. There is a problem in leaving Australia and receiving income through an Australian company as it means we would suffer from double taxation. In Australia, dividends from the company would have attached franking credits so that we would only need to pay the difference between 27.5% and 47% on dividends. But if you live outside Australia in a location where you need to pay tax on foreign income (obviously one reason to move might be to reduce tax...) then we would need to pay the foreign tax on top of the Australian company tax. Investments already inside the company are invested in Australian stocks that pay franked dividends, then the franking credits on the dividends received would mean that the company wouldn't pay net tax on its investment income, so that won't be double taxed if we moved overseas. But trading income would be taxed at 27.5% and then again if paid out as dividends. So, we would need to do a restructure in the most tax-effective way at that point. In an earlier version of this post, I did think about having the company being the beneficiary of a discretionary trust that actually did the trading and then just changing the flow of income. But the trustee of the fund has to pay tax for offshore beneficiaries. So, that doesn't help.

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