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ATO encourages collaboration to make sector better

The ATO has called for the forging of a partnership-type relationship between itself and practitioners in regard to technical issues, as it will result it a stronger SMSF sector.

Speaking at the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) 2016 National SMSF Conference in Melbourne yesterday, ATO director of superannuation Howard Dickinson said: “We’ve gone out to all key associations, including CAANZ, and we’ve [told them] to the stop bringing us lists of problems.

“When you’re talking about a technical issue or a problem that is part of your technical discussions in your working groups, give us a ring. Get us involved.

“Work together with us to prioritise it. Work together with us to work out a solution to it. Work together with us to make that solution happen.”

Dickinson said this was an important shift.

“[It’s] getting away from the ‘us and them’ to say, ‘it’s us together’,” he said.

Dickinson explained the ATO’s role in the partnership would be to provide guidance through materials and services that would provide greater clarity in regard to technical matters.

In terms of the role professionals could play in this partnership he said: “It should mean working together with the ATO to identify collaboratively and develop solutions to issues as they arise.”

Aside from the technical aspects of the sector, Dickinson cited the responsibility to maintain and strengthen the health of the sector as another area in which a partnership between professionals and the regulator was needed.

“When you see evidence of inappropriate behaviour, take responsibility and let us know, ATO or ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) whoever it is, of the problem [so we can] identify in a timely enough fashion to take some action,” he urged.

According to Dickinson it is neither his nor the ATO’s intention to disqualify funds or make them non-complying.

“What I want is a process that protects the fund and the member and if we can resolve that together then that’s the best outcome,” he concluded.

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