ATO to introduce register of disqualified SMSF trustees
The ATO plans to publish the details of disqualified SMSF trustees on its website before the end of the financial year in order to help SMSF professionals easily identify these individuals.
Speaking at the SMSF Association conference, ATO assistant commissioner Dana Fleming announced that before the end of the 2018–19 financial year, so that it is easy for SMSF professionals to search and ensure they do not engage a trustee who has been disqualified.
“The information in the register is all already publicly available through gazettal notices, but we want to make this information more readily accessible,” Ms Fleming said.
“Allowing advisers and others to easily search for disqualified trustees is just another way that we can work with our industry partners to help protect the integrity of the SMSF sector.”
Ms Fleming said that trustees are typically only disqualified as a last resort after other enforcement actions have been considered.
“Where we think a trustee can learn from their mistakes and get back on track with the administration of their SMSF, we will issue an education direction. And if a contravention remains unrectified, we may agree to accept an enforceable undertaking or issue a direction to rectify,” she said.
In the 2017–18 financial year, the ATO disqualified 257 individuals who were trustees of 169 funds, and as at 31 January 2019, 75 individuals of 53 funds have already been disqualified in 2018–19. Illegal early release of funds and loans to members were the main reasons for disqualification.
Other reasons for disqualification included unrectified contraventions reported through auditor contravention reports (ACRs), taking part in tax planning arrangements such as dividend stripping, or for non-lodgement of the SMSF annual return, she said.
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.