A SSAS is permitted to make a loan to a sponsoring employer but the loan must meet all the following conditions, otherwise it could be treated as an unauthorised payment and subject to serious tax consequences.
Security: The amount of the loan must be secured throughout the full term as a first charge on any asset whose value is at least equal to the face value of the loan (including accrued interest). The charge must be in place before the loan is made and there must be no other charge on the asset that takes priority over the charge.
Interest rate: The interest rate on the loan must be at least 1% above the base rate.
Term of loan: The term of the loan must be no longer than five years and the total amount owing (including interest) must be repaid by the end of that term.
Maximum amount of loan: The maximum amount that can be lent to a sponsoring employer is 50% of the net assets of the SSAS.
Repayment terms: The loan must be repaid in equal instalments of capital and interest for each complete year of the loan.
A SSAS may also make a loan to a third party, i.e. to an individual or company who is not connected to a member or sponsoring employer of the SSAS. There are no specific requirements that apply to such loans but they must be genuine investments and should be prudent, secure and taken out on a commercial basis.
If a loan to a third party is used, either directly or indirectly, to acquire any ‘taxable property’, i.e. residential property or tangible moveable property then there may be serious tax consequences even though the loan is to a third party.
A SSAS can invest in a commercial property that is let to the sponsoring employer. In such cases it is important that the property is managed on an arm’s length basis and that rent is charged based on the open market rental value.
It is possible for a SSAS to borrow money, subject to conditions, to help fund a property purchase.