Trading crypto in SMSF – what you need to know

Cryptocurrencies have some different rules than other assets in SMSFs.

Cryptocurrencies have some different rules than other assets in SMSFs. Photo: Getty

The popularity of self-managed super funds and cryptocurrencies are aligning with more investors bringing the two together to feather their retirement nests.

As cryptocurrency gathers momentum as a strong-performing asset class, it’s increasingly becoming a way for people with self-managed super funds to diversify their portfolio.

More retirees are opting to manage their super portfolios with Australian Taxation Office data showing more than 20,000 self-managed funds have started each year from June 2016 to June 2021.

Currently, self-managed super funds are the only type of retirement account that can include cryptocurrencies.

And with the growing acceptance of the digital asset as a legitimate, and potentially lucrative, it’s an attractive investment choice.

Australian self-managed super fund members allocated $212 million into cryptocurrency investments in the year to June 30, 2021 – up from $190 million in June 2019*.

Although trading cryptocurrency with super has many of the same obligations as any other asset classes, there are some particular regulations investors need to be aware of.

Understanding the rules will ensure you get the most out of your investment.

SMSF and crypto

Crypto investment in Australians SMSFs rose by more than $20 million between 2019 and 2021. Photo: Getty

Record keeping

Under ATO rules, cryptocurrencies are not classified as money, but as capital gains tax assets.

This means SMSFs acquiring or disposing of cryptocurrency must keep full records of their transactions.

Clear separation

Super laws also require trustees and members to hold their fund’s assets separately from personal assets.

This means a self-managed super fund’s cryptocurrency investments need to be kept separate from personal or business investments.

The self-managed super fund needs to have clear ownership of the cryptocurrency and members need to have evidence of a separate cryptocurrency wallet.

Sole purpose test

To be eligible for tax concessions at the 15 per cent rate, self-managed super funds need to comply with the sole purpose test.

The sole purpose test is a way of ensuring members are using their funds for retirement benefits only and not for financially benefiting their current lifestyle.

Not meeting the test will result in the fund being taxed at the highest marginal rate.


Part of the record-keeping process includes the valuation of cryptocurrency in Australian dollars.

Cryptocurrency is well known for its volatility, with values fluctuating more rapidly and wildly than traditional asset classes.

The ATO valuation guidelines specifies the fair market value should be found from ‘a reputable digital currency exchange or website that publishes its rates publicly’.

To find out more about trading cryptocurrency within a self-managed super fund, head to Australian cryptocurrency exchange Swyftx.

Sources: *SMSF quarterly report

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