A balanced pension generally includes a property allocation. But beyond that initial investment the pension-holder often has limited involvement. For investors wanting greater control over a property investment, and all the tax benefits of a pension scheme, could an SSAS (Small Self-Administered pension Scheme) be the answer?
How does a SSAS work?
An SSAS is a type of defined-contribution workplace pension that enables you to flexibly manage your own investments. The mechanics are the same as with any other defined contribution pension scheme. Essentially, the amount you can withdraw is determined by the amount you’ve put in, the returns on fund investments, and how you choose to take your money.
However, unlike many other types of pension an SSAS is managed by trustees, who are typically the pension holders themselves. The scheme is also limited to only 11 members . In most instances, these members are the company directors or senior leadership staff. However, SSAS can be opened up to other employees and even family members, as long as the membership limit isn’t exceeded.
Because they are self-managed, SSAS are much more flexible than other schemes. Members can invest in a variety of assets of their choice (within the rules set out by HMRC and the terms of their particular SSAS) without being limited to the investment choices made by a pension provider.
They can be structured so that every member has their own pension pot, or funds can be combined, and members allocated a percentage share.
When members reach 55, they can choose to withdraw up to 25% of their pot, tax-free. The remaining funds can then be taken as income.
What type of property can a SSAS invest in?
In addition to other assets such as investment trusts, gilts and OEICs (Open-Ended Investment Companies), SSAS funds can be invested in commercial property including industrial or retail premises or agricultural and commercial land.
Commercial property is often a popular investment as it offers pension holders a tangible asset that is generally considered relatively stable. This option also enables businesses to buy their own business premises and then lease them back, so that rent is paid back to the SSAS. In this way, income tax can be avoided on the money paid into the scheme.
Can you invest in residential property via a SSAS?
Generally speaking, no. HMRC rules state that an SSAS cannot be used to invest in residential property as this can incur tax penalties of up to 55% of the total investment value.
However, there are ways to invest in residential property without risking a significant tax liability. Investing in residential property while it is still in development is allowed, as long as the investment is sold before the development is completed. Technically, this means selling it before its certificate of completion is created and the property becomes a ‘dwelling’.
You can also use an SSAS to invest in residential property through a third party, which could be a crowdfunding platform, or a loan made to a developer.
What are the pros and cons of a SSAS?
The greatest benefit is flexibility as members have a lot of control over their choice of investment. Plus, there are several advantages when it comes to tax. Contributions are eligible for some tax relief while assets within the fund may also be tax-exempt.
You can also use an SSAS to invest in your own business, which in turn can benefit from lower interest rates compared to commercial loans. Assets can also be held in trust for future generations.
One significant downside of an SSAS is that, along with greater control, members (generally the trustees) have much more responsibility in terms of legal obligations and administration. In particular, the members themselves need to ensure the scheme complies with every aspect of HMRC regulations. The fact that SSAS schemes are also limited to 11 members can also be a disadvantage, depending on the size of your business.
Speak to your financial adviser if you think an SSAS could be right for your business, either as a vehicle for property investment or as a means to reinvest funds in your business,
If you’d like to find out more about investing in property with Acorn as an individual or through a SSAS pension, you can speak to a member of the team on 0203 858 9881 or email us at email@example.com. Please note, you must be a high net worth, certified sophisticated or self-certified sophisticated investor.
YOUR CAPITAL IS AT RISK IF YOU INVEST
Investment opportunities available via Acorn Property Invest are exclusively targeted at exempt investors who are experienced, knowledgeable and sophisticated enough to sufficiently understand the risks involved, and who are able to make their own decisions about suitability of those investment opportunities. All investors should seek an independent professional investment and tax advice before deciding to invest. Any historic performance of investment opportunities is NOT a guide or guarantee for future performance and any projections of future performance are not guaranteed. All investment opportunities available via Acorn Property Invest are NOT regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and you will NOT have access to Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and may not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).