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Early guidance for super on the way: ATO

The ATO has revealed it will deliver new guidance to the industry, including practical examples and the commissioner’s views, when the bill for the superannuation measures reaches Parliament.

“We are clearly in a period of significant change and there’s quite a large government reform agenda on the table in relation to superannuation, and whilst all of the changes haven’t been settled yet, there is no doubt that there will be changes that will impact on SMSFs,” ATO superannuation assistant commissioner Kasey Macfarlane told the SMSF Association Sydney chapter breakfast last week.

“So a key area of focus for the ATO, and one that we recognise, is that individuals and advisers are going to need access to clear guidance around those changes and what it means for them so that they are in a position to comply.”

The tax office will also issue law companion guidelines as part of its plan to provide information on the new super measures to the industry.

“They are guidance products that are issued in draft when the bill is introduced to Parliament and they provide early guidance around the commissioner’s view about how the various new provisions will actually apply,” Macfarlane noted.

“They also go beyond interpretive issues and provide some practical guidance, for example, they could include safe harbours, or they might highlight some particular transactions that the commissioner may consider might be a risk in the context of those amendments.

“I want to iterate that this will be just the start of our guidance around the new measures.

“But [the law companion guidelines] are designed to provide early guidance upfront as soon as the bill is introduced to Parliament and they do become finalised shortly after royal assent.”

She said the guidelines also had the force of a public ruling.

“People that rely upon them in good faith can be certain as to how their circumstances will be treated in that case,” she said.

“So there’s a lot of work going on in terms of providing that information and guidance around the new measures.”

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