SMSF professionals in the spotlight as ATO continues non-lodgement crackdown
While a third of the SMSF professionals contacted as part of the ATO’s crackdown on overdue SMSF returns are now up to date, the remainder have had their funds removed from Super Fund Lookup, says the ATO.
In November last year, the ATO said that it would be writing to tax agents and approved SMSF auditors who are trustees of their own SMSF and failed to lodge their SMSF annual return for one or more years.
Speaking at the SMSF Association Conference, ATO assistant commissioner Dana Fleming said the ATO contacted all SMSF auditors and tax agents who had their own SMSF and had an overdue return.
“We wrote to them in conjunction with the Tax Practitioners’ Board, who also wrote to them about their personal obligations as tax agents and that we would take action if they didn’t contact us within 28 days,” she explained.
“Around 30 per cent are now up to date, so I’m confident that this portion of the population are going to get back on track.”
Ms Fleming said the ATO has a high expectation of the professionals that operate in the industry, because they have a critical role to play in protecting the integrity of the industry.
“We take non-lodgement in this population very seriously because poor compliance history from our data is correlated with poor client compliance history. This is why they’re our first cab off the rank,” she said.
“We’re also contacting the balance of the population and asking them to bring their overdue lodgements up to date, and in the interim, because this is an agent population we have taken their funds off Super Fund Lookup so they can no longer receive any contributions or rollovers.”
Following the ATO’s non-lodgement program last year, the ATO she said has seen a reduction in the number of non-lodgers across the whole SMSF population, with the number of overdue lodgers falling from 87,000 down to 66,000.
While she said that non-lodgement can be a red flag in terms of compliance, in other cases SMSFs may have had previously had good compliance history but reached some type of roadblock or administrative difficulty and just stopped lodging.
“I want to reiterate how critically important we see the lodgement of an SMSF’s annual return being on time. This is a fundamental obligation of trustees. The good news is that 86 per cent of SMSFs do lodge their returns on time, and that is in fact a higher percentage than the rest of the population,” 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.