ATO reports back on late lodgement swoop for tax agents
The ATO says that millions of dollars in revenue has been recouped following a crackdown on thousands of tax practitioners who had fallen behind on their tax obligations, including the lodgement of returns for their SMSF.
Last year, the ATO, in collaboration with the Tax Practitioners Board, commenced action on thousands of tax practitioners who had failed to meet their own tax obligations.
As part of the compliance action, the ATO wrote to tax agents and approved SMSF auditors who had failed to lodge their SMSF annual return for one or more years.
As of February this year, 30 per cent of the SMSF auditors and tax agents who were previously behind in their obligations were up to date with their returns again.
Tax Practitioners Board chair Ian Klug said the latest figures from the compliance project show that millions of dollars in revenue has now been recouped and the risks to retirement savings greatly reduced.
“I’m pleased to see that many practitioners have responded, paying over $40 million in outstanding tax bills, and taking action with more than 6,000 late lodgements,” Mr Klug said.
Mr Klug said the TPB has commenced 35 investigations into higher-risk breaches, with a view to imposing sanctions including termination of registration.
“The message to tax practitioners is clear: you need to act now to ensure your personal tax obligations are up to date,” he said.
ATO assistant commissioner Dana Fleming said this was especially important for tax practitioners who act as trustees for their own SMSF.
“This is particularly the case when some practitioners were found to be acting as trustees of their own SMSF, with collective outstanding returns of over a billion Australian dollars in superannuation retirement assets,” Ms Fleming said.
“Over 1,000 SMSF late returns have now been lodged by tax agent trustees, disclosing total assets exceeding $500 million.”
Ms Fleming said the ATO will continue to target tax practitioners who fail their legal and ethical responsibilities, and the ATO is separately pursuing agent cases, including debt recovery litigation and prosecution actions.
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.