Speaking at the Institute of Chartered Accountants' 2014 Business Forum, the ATO’s SMSF assistant commissioner Matthew Bambrick reiterated the regulator’s focus on auditor contravention reports for the coming year.
“Every single auditor contravention report that comes into us, we’ll do something about. So we’ll risk-rate every single one that comes in the door on the basis of what’s in there but also everything else we know about the fund and the trustees,” Mr Bambrick said.
“On the basis of everything we know about them we’ll decide whether they’ve got a low, medium or high risk.”
Mr Bambrick said the ATO is also focusing more on high-risk funds, and is placing an increasing focus on looking for “problem areas” in relation to SMSFs.
“We’re also focusing more on people who are promoting schemes, looking more at the high-risk areas like [non-arm’s length income] and LRBAs and so forth,” he said.
The ATO is also looking to auditors who only do a “low number” of audits per year, and low-cost audits.
“With the very low cost audits being offered, it does make you wonder how they’re able to do it for that kind of price. There might be good reasons, but there might not be,” Mr Bambrick said.
A continuing area of focus for the ATO is also non-lodgement of SMSFs, Mr Bambrick said, despite the on-time lodgement figure increasing from 70 per cent to 80 per cent.
“We finally got it up that high, but that’s still not very good because that’s 20 per cent who aren’t lodging on time. So we’ve had a bit of a focus on that and [the] new penalty regime applies to non-lodgement as well - five penalty units. That’s not insignificant,” he said.
The ICAA’s head of superannuation, Liz Westover, also asked Mr Bambrick to comment on a recent private binding ruling, given that it appeared to indicate a “change of view” from the ATO.
“Every private ruling is decided on the facts that are put to us in that private ruling, so you will see things that are described in broad terms and sound the same, but you’ll get different answers, and that’s because they’re not the same when you get down to the details,” Mr Bambrick said.
“We don’t think that’s particularly unusual because it happens all the time, you just don’t see a lot of it.”
Mr Bambrick said because of the discussion in the industry following this ruling, the ATO will be holding a discussion with industry representatives, partly to discuss whether there is a need for the ATO to issue a public view.
He also noted the ATO is currently re-writing TR 93/17, which he said has “been around” for over 20 years.