Amid frequent attacks on SMSFs, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has announced it regards the growth and current operation of the sector as a resounding triumph.
“I think we see it in some of the commentary at times people run across these things and say: ‘What trustees can make their own decisions? They’ll get things wrong.’ After considerable thought I have a diametrically different opinion,” ATO assistant deputy commissioner of superannuation Stuart Forsyth said in Sydney last week at the CA National SMSF Conference 2014.
“This is a success story we should be celebrating instead of spending a lot of time worrying about the margins.”
Forsyth said that did not mean the sector was perfect and some trustees were still falling foul of the law.
“The vast bulk of SMSF trustees do the right thing consciously and deliberately because it is the right thing and because it’s their money,” he said.
“It’s a model that actually works. It’s not a bureaucratic model, it doesn’t require control, it works through self-interest.
“It’s not always going to work, but it works pretty well at the moment.”
He said the proof of how healthy the sector was came from the current compliance reporting statistics, which showed audit contravention reports had been lodged for only 2 per cent of the total number of SMSFs.
“The bulk of the money [is] saved. The bulk of the money is invested,” he said.
“This is not a bad story in anybody’s language.”
He said despite the healthy state of SMSFs, certain groups and individuals were still advocating for greater control measures over the sector, a move he considered unnecessary.
“It’s a pity to see at times people actually advocating prudential regulation of self-managed super funds,” he said.
“How would you do that? Who would do it? And why would you do it? Where’s the burning platform of why it needs to happen?”