Claims ATO proposal set to burden auditors
A new ATO proposal designed to combat misuse of auditor numbers has been labelled as a significant burden for SMSF auditors.
The proposal, currently being considered by the ATO would require auditors to report every completed audit directly to the ATO to reduce the mis-use of audit numbers, according to SuperAuditors director Shelley Banton.
Speaking to SMSF Adviser, Ms Banton said the proposed requirement would be an inefficient approach to tackling the mis-use of auditor numbers.
“I’d hate to be sitting here doing an online eSAT report for every single audit we did,” she said.
“I would much prefer to receive a list from the ATO and cross reference that way because all I need to do is check it against the system and make a few queries.”
Ms Banton said while cross-checking against a list from the ATO would be a far more efficient process there are privacy laws the ATO is aware of “which has stopped the flow of information coming through to date”.
These privacy laws, she said, could be the reason the ATO is considering this proposal for auditors to report every audit instead.
The impact of this requirement on auditors will depend on the volume of audits being undertaken by the audit company, she added.
“If you’re only doing 20 audits, then you’ll be saying well that’s not a problem, but if you’re doing several hundred or a thousand, then you have to do an eSAT report for each one,” she said.
Ms Banton said it’s still unclear how complex the reporting would need to be.
“If you’re looking to get information from auditors you’re going to want as much information as you can,” she said.
“I can’t imagine it’s going to be less onerous than what we’re already doing.”
BDO Australia partner Shirley Schaefer told SMSF Adviser that more reporting by auditors direct to the ATO, if implemented, would improve the communication channel between auditors and the ATO.
“At the moment, the only other time an auditor is required to report to the ATO is when there’s an auditor contravention report,” she said.
“So I think you might find that there will be more direct reporting to the ATO by all auditors for all audits that they do and that will tighten up on that problem and process.”
Ms Schaefer said the ATO will likely continue to take a closer look at the tax agents putting auditor details on audits that haven’t been done.
Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.
Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates. Miranda has also directed SMSF Adviser's print publication for several years.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.