subscribe to our newsletter
subscribe to our newsletter

ATO tweaks SMSF return rules

Miranda Brownlee
29 April 2016 — 2 minute read

As foreshadowed in recent months, some of the rules for SMSFs without assets at 30 June have been officially adjusted.

The new rules enable SMSFs that didn’t have assets during the first year it was registered to flag the SMSF’s record as return not necessary.

SuperConcepts general manager of technical services and education, Peter Burgess, said the issue in the past was that the ATO’s systems would not accept an annual return for an SMSF without any assets, unless the return was for the year in which the fund was being wound up.


“What they’ve announced is that they’ve revised their criteria for SMSFs requesting a return not necessary classification. What they’ve said is that if it’s in the first year that the fund is registered and the fund doesn’t have any assets in that first year, you can apply to the ATO to have a return not necessary classification put on that fund,” Mr Burgess said.

“That will then prevent any follow-up action being undertaken by the ATO because without that status, it has the return not lodged status on the fund which may result in some follow-up action being taken by the ATO to try and chase that return.”

However, in order to apply for a return not necessary classification, the trustee needs to confirm in writing that although registered, the fund had no assets and did not receive contributions or rollovers in the first financial year of its operation. The trustee also needs to have documentary evidence of the date the SMSF first held assets and commenced operating, and confirm that the fund will be lodging future returns.

“So it may not have had any assets at 30 June but it does now have assets and you need to be able to prove that, typically by being able to provide a copy of the fund’s bank account [statement],” Mr Burgess said.

“You can’t say, ‘Well my fund didn’t have any money on 30 June and still doesn’t have any money but I’m going to apply to the ATO to have a return not necessary classification on my fund’ ... that won’t be accepted.”

The ATO said on its website that if the trustee wants to flag the SMSF record as return not necessary, the SMSF must confirm in writing that it will be lodging future returns.

The ATO said it is currently contacting trustees of newly registered SMSFs that have not lodged an annual return and where it has no records of them holding assets.

“If your clients receive a letter, advise them that we will cancel their registrations if they have not taken action as stated in the letter, lodged an annual return or applied for a return not necessary,” the ATO website states.

Read more:

Dodging new SMSF rules a possibility, lawyer says

AMP Capital eyes SMSFs with new fund offer

SMSFA continues push on super caps

Miranda Brownlee

Miranda Brownlee


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.

You can email Miranda on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ATO tweaks SMSF return rules
smsf logo
smsfadviser logo
join the discussion

Latest poll

Do you outsource a part of your business operations?

Website Notifications

Get notifications in real-time for staying up to date with content that matters to you.