When planning an extended overseas trip, generally the last thing on anyone's mind is their SMSF. However, it is something that you need to consider.
A SMSF needs to be a complying superannuation fund in order to access tax concessions. One of these requirements is that the fund needs to be a resident regulated superannuation fund. If a SMSF ceases to be a resident superannuation fund and as such loses its tax concessions, its income will be taxed at the highest marginal tax rate.
To be a resident SMSF, the central management and control of the fund must remain in Australia. If the trustees(s) of the fund move overseas, or travel overseas for an extended period, this could be an issue.
The ATO has indicated that if the travel is for less than two years, the fund may still meet the residency requirements. However there are a number of caveats, including that no contributions are made to the fund during this time.
So if you're planning to be overseas for an extended period of time, add 'SMSF' to your checklist.