When reporting SMSF breaches, auditors must provide thorough and succinct information to the ATO, ensuring no other conclusions can be drawn.
“Don’t provide a long-winded response which doesn’t say anything and don’t give them a yes/no answer,” McPherson Super Consulting director Allan McPherson told the Institute of Public Accountants 2015 National Congress on the Gold Coast last month.
“Give them clear explanations as to why things happened and how they happened.
“Provide the information in a concise manner – don’t leave gaps for the ATO to fill in because you’ll let the ATO come to their own conclusions about how things happened.”
McPherson added the quality of supporting evidence was key.
“Make sure your facts are correct and a critical point here is: do not believe your client,” he said.
“You might find yourself going to the ATO with the facts and when they ask you to provide the documents, you’ll see it wasn’t repaid because the client lied to you.
“And don’t change the story because the ATO hates it when you keep changing your story.”
He also warned not to avoid the ATO and any deadlines.
“If you think you’re going to have a problem, engage the ATO upfront and try to get them to turn around before they make an unfavourable decision,” he said.
“Provide a solution and make sure your client is prepared to do what you’ve stated.
“As an ultimate solution, offer to wind up the fund or if you are really desperate, wind it up before you [contact the ATO].”
He said auditors should make contact rather than waiting for the ATO to contact them.
“Get on the front foot,” he said.
“Be honest with the tax office, don’t cover anything up and don’t sweep it under the carpet.”