Auditors warned on independence risks
SMSF auditors need to place a greater onus on independence to avoid attracting the attention of the regulators, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia (ICAA).
ICAA’s head of superannuation, Liz Westover, said the ATO has identified 1,200 SMSF auditors who are conducting or offering taxation services to their clients.
“Now that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but [the ATO] do see it as a risk factor, and they will be writing to those 1,200 people to ask them about their independence arrangements,” she said.
“If you are doubting someone else’s independence in the audit world, send them a copy of the Independence Guide.”
Ms Westover said if the ATO or ASIC caught on, an auditor would need to have a compelling reason as to why they have erred away from what the professional associations have said on this issue.
“Just know that the tax office is looking at this one. The onus is on the auditor to make sure they are meeting their professional obligations around independence,” she said.
Ms Westover also mentioned that there is still large numbers of auditors who are conducting a low numbers of audits.
“Now we are not expecting any activity from [ASIC] at this stage, but they will be looking at the patterns for the next couple of years, so if there is anyone with a low number of audits over a period of time, you can expect a ‘please explain’ from ASIC,” she said.