ATO to focus on serious non-compliance

The ATO will concentrate on cases of serious non-compliance from SMSFs in the coming financial year.

Speaking at the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand 2016 National SMSF Conference in Melbourne, ATO superannuation assistant commissioner Kasey Macfarlane said: “We’ll be looking at those instances, number one, where trustees are persistently, deliberately not complying with their regulatory obligations.

“Fortunately that’s only in a small number of cases, but we do detect those cases.

“Also we’re looking at instances where people are operating out of the system and what I mean by that is people persistently not lodging SMSF annual returns.

“That’s a real concern for us because there is just a lack of transparency going on in the fund.”

Macfarlane revealed the ATO’s targeted program to address that issue last year involved around 30,000 SMSFs that had failed to lodge a return for a number of years or had never lodged a return.

According to Macfarlane, after following up those funds, 32 per cent took action to bring their lodgements up to date.

“The concerning thing was that there’s still 68 per cent of those [funds] outstanding and it just concerns us what’s going on in those funds and whether audits have been undertaken, for example,” she said.

She warned trustees who were unwilling to cooperate with the regulator to rectify the situation were indicating they needed to be exited out of the SMSF system.

The ATO was not unsympathetic to advisers in the situation where they had taken on a new client with SMSF compliance issues, she pointed out.

“The advice there would be to actually come to us, work through it, and work with us to try and bring [the fund] up to date,” she said.

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