ATO ups scrutiny on SMSF practitioner behaviour
The ATO is increasing its focus on the behaviour and history of “intermediaries” when it risk-rates SMSFs, including accountants, financial planners and auditors.
Speaking at the SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia’s (SPAA's) State Technical Conference this week, ATO assistant commissioner for SMSFs Matthew Bambrick said the ATO is looking more towards the practitioners who work with SMSF trustees.
“It’s not just trustees’ behaviour, attitude or knowledge that drives the behaviour of SMSFs. It’s also the attitude, behaviour and knowledge of the intermediaries involved, which is financial advisers, tax agents, accountants and approved auditors,” Mr Bambrick said.
“So what we do before we decide what funds to look at from a compliance point of view is we risk-rate the funds… what we’re starting to do now is also risk-rate the intermediaries from the knowledge we have about them, and feed that into our risk-rating [of] funds.
“If you’ve got a tax agent who’s got problems with their own income tax affairs, then they’re probably a higher risk and that probably feeds into the risk we give to their clients, but that’s not just about SMSFs.”
Mr Bambrick emphasised the independence of approved auditors remains a key area of focus for the ATO.
“If you have a firm and it’s got three partners and they’ve done the books and they’ve done the audit, then we’d say that’s pretty likely to have an independence issues. But if you’ve got [the audit] coming out of the same firm but there’s 30 partners, it might mean that the Chinese walls can work.”