Investment bonds, or insurance bonds as they are also known, are issued by life insurance companies. They have features similar to a managed fund combined with a life insurance policy. They can be a tax effective way to invest if certain rules about contributions and withdrawals are followed.
Investment bonds are used for a range of purposes including:
Parties to an investment bond
There three parties to an investment bond; the owner – who subscribes the investment funds, the life insured – who may be the bond owner, or someone else, and the issuer of the bond – the life insurance company.
Some bonds may include fourth party, being a nominated beneficiary. The bond owner may nominate a beneficiary to receive the bond proceeds in the event of the death of the life insured.
Child Advancement Conditions
Where a bond is issued on the life of a child, and its ownership is to vest in the name of the child at a future date, the bond is subject to Child Advancement Conditions. The owner of the bond may nominate an age, up to 25, at which the ownership of the bond will transfer to the child.
10 year rule
Insurance bonds are tax paid investments. This means earnings on the investment are taxed in the hands of the life insurance company at the corporate tax rate. Insurance companies are generally taxed at a rate of 30% however the actual rate of tax payable may be less than 30% when tax deductions, tax offsets, and tax credits available to the life insurer are taken into account.
Investment bonds can be tax effective for long term investors with a marginal tax rate higher than 30%. An investment bond is designed to be held for at least 10 years. If you hold the bond for at least 10 years, the returns on the investment, including additional contributions that meet the 125% rule, will be tax free. In some circumstances, investing in an investment bond for a shorter period may be an appropriate strategy.
If you withdraw money before 10 years is up, some or all of the income will be taxable and included in the investor’s assessable income. This amount is taxed at the investor’s marginal tax rate – however a 30% tax offset is allowed to compensate for the tax already paid by the life insurance company. Where an investor’s personal tax rate is less than 30%, any unused portion of the tax offset can be used to reduce tax payable on other income in the same financial year.
If you make a withdrawal within the first 10 years, the rate at which earnings in the investment bond are taxed will depend on when you make the withdraw
While investment bonds are often described as a ‘single premium’ or lump sum investment, many investment bonds accept both regular and irregular additional investments. Provided the amount invested in any one year – based on the anniversary of the bond commencing – does not exceed the previous year’s investment by more than 125%, it will be considered part of the initial investment.
If you exceeds 125% of the previous years’ investment, the 10 year period will reset. If you do not make a contribution in any one year, a contribution in following years will reset the 10 year rule.
The life office issuing the investment bond may offer a range of investment options such as single asset funds i.e. cash, fixed interest, shares, property or a range of diversified options. Each option has different investment goals, timeframes, risk profiles and underlying assets.
Disadvantages and Risks of Investment Bonds
The key risks are largely determined by the nature of the investment chosen. Risks to be aware of include:
General Advice Warning
The information provided on this website is general in nature only and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information on this website you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. Before making any decision, it is important for you to consider these matters and to seek appropriate legal, tax, and other professional advice.
All statements made on this website are made in good faith and we believe they are accurate and reliable. Macarthur Wealth Management does not give any warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of information that is contained in this website, except in so far as any liability under statute cannot be excluded. Macarthur Wealth Management, its directors, employees and their representatives do not accept any liability for any error or omission on this website or for any resulting loss or damage suffered by the recipient or any other person. Unless otherwise specified, copyright of information provided on this website is owned by Macarthur Wealth Management. You may not alter or modify this information in any way, including the removal of this copyright notice.
Macarthur Wealth Management Links
Macarthur Wealth Management (ABN 62638008705) is a Corporate Authorised Representative (1282807) of Fintegrity Wealth Advisers, Australian Financial Services Licensee No. 534971. This information (including taxation) is general in nature and does not consider your individual circumstances. You should refrain from doing anything in reliance on this information without first obtaining suitable professional advice. Do not act until you seek professional advice and consider a Product Disclosure Statement. This information is for Australian residents only.