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SMSF firms handed fresh resource on independence changes

Dr Jane Rennie
Jotham Lian
22 February 2021 — 1 minute read

Accounting firms waiting on ATO guidance around new SMSF auditor independence requirements have been handed an additional resource from a professional accounting body.

CPA Australia has released a new fact sheet and frequently asked questions resource to address uncertainty around the recently restructured APES 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants.

In essence, the new code makes it clear that an SMSF auditor cannot audit an SMSF where the auditor, their staff or their firm has prepared the financial statements for the SMSF unless it is a routine or mechanical service.

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As accounting firms typically offer a complete administration service to SMSF trustees, they may now need to choose between non-assurance services, including tax and compliance advice, and audit services.

While the changes kicked in last year, the ATO has committed to adopting an educative approach during the current financial year to allow firms to restructure and adapt to the new requirements.

CPA Australia general manager of external affairs Dr Jane Rennie said the new fact sheet and FAQs were intended to help the profession ahead of impending ATO web guidance due to arrive next month.

“There’s still a lot of confusion about how the new SMSF auditor independence requirements apply,” Dr Rennie said. 

“The ATO will provide technical detail in coming months, but they’re relying on organisations like CPA Australia to fill in some of the blanks.

“Our FAQs are based on questions we’ve been hearing from members and have been fact-checked with the ATO and APESB. They address real issues that auditors and trustees are likely to face and provide practical guidance.

“The fact sheet we developed will help auditors determine if they can still provide non-assurance services and trustees to know which services their accounting firm can deliver.

“If you provide services to SMSF audit clients, we strongly advise you take a look at these resources now, as the window to withdraw from prohibited services is closing and clients will need time to engage a new provider if necessary.”   

View CPA Australia’s SMSF Auditor Independence Fact Sheet and its SMSF Auditor Independence FAQs.

SMSF firms handed fresh resource on independence changes
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