ATO tipped to up scrutiny of tax agents
One BDO partner has tipped that tax agents will be an increased target of the regulators after an ATO trial last year on misuse of auditor registration numbers produced some concerning results.
As SMSF Adviser reported mid last year, the ATO conducted the trial with 40 auditors to cross check the funds a particular SMSF auditor said they were auditing against the funds a tax agent said they were auditing, explained Shirley Schaefer, superannuation partner with accounting and advisory network BDO.
Approximately 50 per cent of the auditors reported being supplied with inaccurate information about the audits they were undertaking.
“At worst, no audit has been done at all and people are doing the wrong thing completely; at best, it’s a timing issue,” Ms Schaefer told SMSF Adviser.
“But the problem is… for the tax agent, they’re lodging a tax return with false and misleading information on it – it’s actually reasonably serious, even at best if it’s a timing issue.
“I do think the ATO will start looking at the tax agents more. That’s why they did that trial with the auditors about lodgements, so that will be an area they will focus some energy and resources on,” she said.
Ms Schaefer noted the regulators’ focus on the SMSF auditing process has been intense in recent months, citing the disqualification of three SMSF auditors within the space of one week late last year.
“ASIC don’t disqualify for no reason, so it’s not like you’re being disqualified for not dotting an ‘i’ and crossing a ‘t’ – it has to be fairly serious,” she said.