The SMSF Association has thrown its support behind the ATO’s new Super Scheme Smart initiative, which is aimed at safeguarding the retirement savings of Australians.
SMSF Association managing director and chief executive Andrea Slattery said the project was welcomed as a way of ensuring people are protected from fraudulent advice and inappropriate tax schemes.
“The overwhelming majority of advisers in the financial services sector play by the rules but sadly there is a minority element of spruikers that prey on the vulnerable by offering them risky schemes,” Slattery explained.
“The evidence to date suggests the occurrences of this type of behaviour are very rare but the ATO is taking the right step by setting up this program to raise awareness about the spruikers.
“This program assists in further minimising the possibility of people being exposed to scams.”
The ATO program, announced on Friday, is part of a broader campaign focusing on tax avoidance schemes.
It will provide individuals and SMSF trustees with valuable information about what to look out for and what steps to take if they believe they have fallen prey to a risky scheme.
Slattery said the association has always worked closely with the regulators, including having input in this program with the ATO, to ensure the highest ethical standards in the SMSF sector.
“The ATO’s decision to establish this program also highlights the importance of SMSF trustees in engaging with an SMSF Association specialist to provide them with advice and services to ensure they remain up to date on any changes happening in the SMSF sector and superannuation more broadly,” she said.
“Getting high quality professional advice is the best insurance to ensure individuals and SMSF trustees avoid becoming a victim of fraudulent behaviour.”
Realising that many taxpayers rely heavily on the advice of their trusted financial planners, accountants and other advisers, the ATO is delivering practical help and information for intermediaries through Super Scheme Smart.
“Retirement planning is critical and an exciting time in people’s lives as they work out how they’ll manage their finances after they leave the workforce,” ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston said.
“Unfortunately, promoters of these risky schemes are aware of the role that advisers play at this critical time and are targeting advisers to get their assistance in recommending schemes to clients.
“The ATO wants to play its part in ensuring soon-to-be retiring taxpayers protect their nest eggs – that means working closely with the individuals but also with their trusted advisers.
“In order to put a stop to these schemes, we are encouraging people to come forward if they believe they are at risk, are already involved in a scheme or believe their clients are.”
Advisers and accountants are encouraged to take advantage of the ATO’s practical support through Super Scheme Smart online resources including information packs, visual guides and videos to protect themselves and their clients.