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ATO flags early release concerns with lapsed lodgers

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Miranda Brownlee
27 June 2022 — 1 minute read

New ATO data indicates that there are currently over 138,000 lapsed lodgers with one or more outstanding SMSF returns.

Recent ATO data provided to SMSF Adviser indicates that just over 80 per cent of SMSFs have now lodged their return for the 2020–21 financial year as of 23 June 2022.

The ATO noted that a number of SMSFs have applied for deferrals, with lodgements expected to increase over the coming months.


There is currently over 138,000 lapsed lodgers with one or more outstanding SMSF returns, according to the ATO data.

The ATO warned that lapsed lodgements for an SMSF can signify “breaches of regulatory rules or illegal early release of funds”.

There has, however, been an improvement in the number of SMSF lodging their first return.

There is currently around 26,000 funds that have never lodged their first SMSF return. In late March, ATO assistant commissioner - SMSF regulatory branch, Justin Micale, reported that 34,000 SMSFs had never lodged their first return.

The ATO warned that where trustees have failed to lodge their first SMSF return, this signifies a risk that “trustees may have illegally accessed their superannuation which may to significant tax consequences and penalties”.

“It is important that SMSFs lodge their audited annual returns on time or seek a deferral from the ATO if they need additional time, to avoid unnecessary follow up,” the ATO stated.

“Lodging an annual return is a fundamental obligation of running your own super fund, and SMSFs who fail to do so are not only breaching their obligations as a trustee but are likely to trigger interest from the ATO.”

Mr Micale said in late March that lodgment of SMSF returns remains a significant priority for the ATO. 

“We have a comprehensive communication program in place to remind trustees of their lodgment requirements, including targeted mail-outs for those new to the system and those that have failed to meet a due date,” he said. 

“While this approach does deliver positive results for the majority of trustees, there remains a persistent group who continue to ignore our reminders so we’re now targeting them with a compliance campaign called three strikes and you’re out.”

Miranda Brownlee

Miranda Brownlee

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 also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.

You can email Miranda on: [email protected]momentummedia.com.au
ATO flags early release concerns with lapsed lodgers
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