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Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Set for Life: Children's Retirement Accounts

There is much to be said for starting an investment portfolio as soon as possible - compound interest works it's magic over long periods, and you can set your asset allocation to a much more aggressive "high-growth" mix if you have a very long time horizon. So, starting an investment portfolio for your kids is one of the best possible strategies, and is even more so with the proposed changes to superannuation tax in Australia - ie. that there will be no tax on superannuation withdrawals made during retirement.

This means that if you set up a child superannuation account into which you (or any relatives or friends of the child) can contribute up to $1000 each year. (There is a cap of $3,000 every three years PER ACCOUNT - if you wanted to save more than $10 per week you just setup several accounts for your child). There will be no tax due on deposits (as they are made as undeducted contributions), no tax on pension or lump sum payments over 65 years of age, and a maximum 15% tax rate on earnings (likely to be reduced below 15% due to the benefit of franking credits on share dividends).

For example, if you contribute around $10 each week ($250 per quarter) into a child superannuation account from birth until 18 years of age, and then no additional contribtions are made, at retirement age (65) the account would be worth $2,218,843 (or $317,898 in today's dollars) - assuming an average return of 10% pa for a high-growth asset mix (shares (preferably geared), some bonds and some property), and an average inflation rate of 3% pa.

For a total contribution of $18,000 your child's retirement fund will have added $300,000 (in today's dollars) by the time they retire - with no further contributions required after they turn 18. This will let your child concentrate on paying off a mortgage or investing outside of super when they start working.

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