When it comes to helping your children or grandchildren get a financial headstart in life there are so many options available however your generosity could create tax issues down the track. Here we explore this topic from a few different angles, depending on how you wish to help them.
If you want to guarantee that money invested for a specific purpose in your child’s life is used for that intention, there are a number of ways to make sure this happens.
If you look around, there are plenty of investment products aimed squarely at helping parents save for education. Education funds are often referred to as “Education Savings Plans”. The savings plans can be set up to transfer to the child’s name at an age specified by you. Many of these funds charge minimal fees and the funds can be used for paying for books and uniforms, repaying HECS debts, and even to purchase musical instruments and lessons.
Due to the increasing difficulty faced by many young Australians in saving for their first home, assistance from family members is likely to become more common. A facility is available which enables parents to help with the purchase at no direct cost to themselves. The “family guarantee” loan allows parents, or another family member, to use their own home as security on a portion of their child’s mortgage, generally to increase their deposit amount.
If you choose to act as a guarantor, be aware of the implications. For example, you may be responsible for the entire loan if your offspring cannot meet repayments; or even worse, if they default on the loan and the lender sells the property at a loss, you may be at risk of losing your own home.
Another option that places less risk on your assets is to lend your child money to make or increase their home deposit. Combining a parent’s loan with the first homeowner grant can make a substantial impact on the life of the mortgage.
Accessing tax breaks
Parents may be well aware of the value that spreading income across family members can have when it comes to tax time. But beware. The Australian Tax Office ensures money is not placed in children’s names purely to give Mum and Dad a tax break. For this reason, it can apply more aggressive tax rates for passive income invested in the name of a person under age 18. So when setting up any investment in this way, make sure you check with your adviser first.
The key to giving your kids a leg-up is to have a clear objective before you start. With so many options available it can get confusing, so be sure to seek the services of a qualified financial planner to assist you with planning for your future and that of your children.
General advice disclaimer
General advice warning: The advice provided is general advice only as, in preparing it we did not take into account your investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs. Before making an investment decision on the basis of this advice, you should consider how appropriate the advice is to your particular investment needs, and objectives. You should also consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision relating to a financial product.