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Industry hopes for sensible resolution to NALE in 2020

Sarah Kendell
09 January 2020 — 1 minute read

The SMSF industry is hoping for a sensible resolution to the enforcement of general expense provisions in the government’s recently introduced non-arm’s length expense laws, with the ATO’s confirmation that they will not actively police such provisions not enough reassurance for a number of industry stakeholders.

SuperConcepts general manager of technical services and education Peter Burgess told SMSF Adviser it was “still not clear” how the new rules would apply to general expenses incurred by self-managed funds that were non-arm’s length, and that the industry was eagerly awaiting further confirmation on this point from the regulator.

“Will compliance services such as administration and the completion of the fund’s annual accounts and tax return, which are provided by a professional to their own fund or that of a family member, friend, colleague or business associate for no fee or a discounted fee, invoke the new rules?” Mr Burgess said.

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“While the ATO has said they won’t be allocating compliance resources to checking whether the new rules have been applied in these situations for the 2018–19 and 2019–20 income years, the release of the ATO’s final ruling on this issue will be a much-anticipated event in 2020.”

Australian Executor Trustees senior technical services manager Julie Steed echoed Mr Burgess’ comments, saying industry stakeholders needed concrete assurance around how the provisions would be enforced.

“This topic has had significant coverage in recent months, including the ATO’s view that they aren’t overly concerned, but I think that practitioners need to see revised guidance from the ATO,” Ms Steed said.

“The penalty of having all income of all assets taxed at the top marginal rate at all times does not fit the crime of lodging the fund’s tax return on your work computer at lunchtime.”

SMSF Adviser reported in November that despite general expenses such as annual returns being included in the ATO’s draft compliance ruling around the new laws, the regulator would not look to actively police breaches that were purely general expense related.

“I think what I can assure the industry is that we are not looking to dedicate compliance resources to administering general expenses. I don’t see that as a risk area for the SMSF sector and that was not the reason the legislation was introduced,” ATO assistant commissioner Dana Fleming said at the time.

Industry hopes for sensible resolution to NALE in 2020
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