Fee hikes for ASIC funding model unjustified, says IPA
The Institute of Public Accountants has raised concerns that the industry funding model for ASIC is more focused on increasing government revenue than equipping the corporate regulator to do its job properly.
IPA chief executive Andrew Conway said there appears to be a disconnect between ASIC’s ability to raise revenue for government coffers and its capacity to do its actual job; regulation and enforcement.
"The IPA has long advocated for ASIC to be appropriately resourced to do its job. However, it would appear that ASIC is doing a much better job of raising revenue for government than what it is doing in terms of enforcement,” said Mr Conway.
In a submission to Treasury in December last year on the ASIC fees for service funding model, the IPA noted that the consultation paper referred to the government's 'charging framework', which requires an alignment between the expenses of the regulatory activity and the revenue; and which states that there must not be systematic over- or under-recovery of costs over time.
In 2016-17, ASIC raised $920.24 million for the Commonwealth in fees and charges, an increase of 5 per cent from the previous year. Also in 2016-17, ASIC received approximately $349 million in appropriation revenue. ASIC's expenses were $392.46 million, leaving a deficit of over $43.5 million, said Mr Conway.
"In other words, even though ASIC is making significant income for government, it is not even able to cover its own costs from the budget it receives from government. This also means that ASIC is raising substantially more revenue than its operational costs, which appears to go against the government's own Charging Framework,” he said.
"In order to justify the huge increase in proposed fees for industry then government would need to make the case that the genuine operational costs (as indicated by a fees-for-service model) are much higher than the current stated operational costs. This is simply not the case.”
If the aim is to raise more revenue, said Mr Conway, this may explain why ASIC has proposed a one-off fee increase from $107 to $3,429 for new auditors of SMSFs.
"While the new proposed fee has been reduced to $1,927, it is still far too high and will only deter new entrants into the SMSF auditor market, which is already in decline,” he said.
"Not only is ASIC overcharging, but the government is double-dipping. The ATO currently already collects $259 from each SMSF to finance the SMSF monitoring role the ATO conducts on behalf of ASIC. Whilst this levy was a mere $45 in 2008 it now equates to approximately $142.5 million to monitor the sector including SMSF auditors.”