If you are wondering whether a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF) can invest in cryptocurrencies, the quick answer is ‘yes’. SMSFs can invest in digital currencies the same way they can in other types of assets such as property, artwork or shares.
The same rules apply as for other SMSF assets, but investing in crypto comes with a few extra things to consider.
Here’s an overview.
Basic investment rules for SMSFs
SMSFs need to meet the following conditions:
- The sole-purpose test—your SMSF’s investments must only exist for future retirement benefits.
- Investments must be held at ‘arm’s length’—meaning they are owned by the fund and kept separate from personal and business assets, and that no one gets a current benefit from them. For example, if you invest in property you or your relatives cannot live in it or earn any immediate income from it.
- Your fund must have a documented investment strategy that details its investment mix.
- All investment assets must be permitted by the fund’s trust deed and in line with its investment strategy.
- Assets must be valued in accordance with ATO guidelines.
- SMSFs must not purchase assets from related parties (e.g. other fund or family members). There are some exceptions to this, but cryptocurrency is not one of them.
- If your fund sells an asset and makes a profit, it could be subject to capital gains tax (CGT). However, CGT does not apply if the returns are used to fund members’ pensions.
There are some specific guidelines and recommendations for SMSF cryptocurrency investments that apply on top of the basic rules.
- According to SuperGuide, when investing in cryptocurrencies, you must choose an exchange that accepts SMSF investments.
- Since cryptocurrencies are considered high risk in that they are not backed by government, it’s best not to have them as your sole investment asset. SuperGuide suggests that diversifying your investment assets to spread the risk is a safer option.
- Make sure your digital currencies are valued according to their fair market value. The ATO says this can be obtained from a reputable currency exchange that publicly publishes rates.
- You will need to set up a separate wallet for the fund, according to SuperGuide. For additional security and privacy, you can use a cold wallet (also called an offline wallet) with a private key rather than an internet-connected default or hot wallet. Cold wallets such as Ledger or Trezor can be connected temporarily to the internet for transactions and then unplugged.
CPA and tax agent Natalia Clack is the director of Easy Super in Sydney. She is an SMSF expert and has a keen interest in the crypto space.
She says if you use a cold wallet, it must be registered under the fund’s name. She also says good record keeping is vital.
“Keeping a good record of all transactions including buys, sells, transfer from one exchange to another or transfer from an exchange to a wallet is crucial for the calculation of capital gain or loss,” she says.
“This is also important for SMSF audits.”
While it is technically possible to invest in cryptocurrency via an SMSF, that doesn’t mean you should. Speak to a qualified and licensed financial advisor to obtain professional advice that is relevant for your personal circumstances.