Lawyer gives tips on waiving ATO penalties

With the ATO’s new penalty powers set to come into effect in the coming months, an industry lawyer has outlined ways in which trustees could potentially get the penalties waived.

The new regime will come into effect on July 1 this year, with penalties of up to $10,200 available to the ATO.

Speaking at a Super Central seminar yesterday, Townsends Business & Corporate Lawyers’ special counsel for superannuation and estate planning Brian Hor said it will be at the discretion of the ATO whether to downplay a penalty.

“If you received an administrative penalty you could beg for mercy and the tax office do have discretion… to potentially reduce or remit that penalty, if you come up with a good story,” he said.

“[Also,] if you received or inclined to receive a rectification direction or an education direction you can ask the tax office to vary it - so for example, [if] you want an extension of time.”

According to Townsends Business & Corporate Lawyers’ principal Peter Townsend, clients may look to their advisers if they receive smaller contraventions as a result of an administration error.

“[If] you’re the one that is administrating the fund, the client of course can say, ‘I know nothing about super. You put me into this, you fix it’,” he said.

“The $10,000 [penalty] is a bigger one and almost certainly [trustees] will have had some involvement in those, but the smaller ones are very likely to be administrative errors and [it is] very likely [clients] are going to turn to you for the compensation,” he added.

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