Business News

ATO examining misuse of auditor numbers

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has implemented a pilot program to investigate the misuse of registered auditors’ numbers on SMSF annual returns.

“There has been concern expressed that the SMSF auditor number, which is the registration number assigned by ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) and is available on its website, is being misused,” ATO self-managed super funds assistant commissioner Matthew Bambrick said.

“So when someone puts in their SMSF annual return, they have to report who their auditor was and record the auditor number, and if they haven’t had an audit done, it’s quite easy to find an auditor number on the ASIC website and drop it in.

“So we’re having a look at that and we’ve found 10 [instances] so far.”

Bambrick admitted it was difficult for the ATO to properly investigate the practice because in most cases the regulator only knew an audit had actually been performed by a registered auditor when an auditor contravention report (ACR) had been lodged.

The problem is not all SMSF audits performed result in the lodgement of an ACR, meaning the ATO has no accurate indication of the total number of legitimate audits currently being carried out.

In an effort to improve that situation, Bambrick encouraged auditors to report all of the work they had performed to the regulator.

“We started a pilot program a few months ago to check if this is a big issue or not, and the only way we can check if an auditor number and name has been taken in vain on the annual return is if we know what audits they’ve done,” he said.

“There is an ability for auditors to report to us all of the funds they audit through ESAT, the electronic superannuation audit tool, a free tool they can download from the ATO website.

“It allows auditors to report every fund they audit and lodge audit contravention reports with us electronically.”

The ATO currently had a team of auditors as part of the pilot program comparing legitimate audits performed to SMSF annual returns to determine the extent of the problem, he said.

“But if auditors have a real concern about it, they should contact us,” he said.

Copyright © SMS Magazine 2024

ABN 43 564 725 109

Benchmark Media

Site design Red Cloud Digital