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ATO not intending to change detail of data

The ATO has confirmed it has no plans to enhance the detail contained in the statistics it compiles for the SMSF sector, despite calls from practitioners to do so.

“We don’t have any plans to make [the data] more granular, but I am interested to know what sort of things you’re looking for,” ATO SMSF segment assistant commissioner Kasey Macfarlane said during a panel discussion at the latest SMSF Association Sydney Local Community event.

In response, Verante Financial Planning director Liam Shorte said: “We’re getting a lot of kickback from the APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority)-[regulated] funds that SMSF trustees don’t have international [investment] exposure and that they are stupid investors that just invest in cash and Australian shares.

“I’ve talked to a lot of SMSF trustees and they’ve all got major international exposure through ETFs (exchange-traded funds) and managed funds, but it’s just not being recorded.

“[The statistics] are giving everybody the opinion that SMSFs don’t go overseas [to invest] because the smartest SMSF people haven’t been doing it.”

Shorte pointed out every investment has some form of identification code that could potentially be used to provide better investment records for SMSFs.

“Surely these items could be fed through [the system],” he suggested.

Macfarlane admitted she was receptive to the idea.

“I’m happy to take that on board and have a look because we’re always looking at different ways that we can improve those statistics and make them more informative,” she said.

“[For example] just over the last 12 to 18 months with help from the SMSF Association we’ve made some key changes. One of the key things used to be around the differences in trying to compare the gross returns or the returns between SMSFs and APRA funds, so we’ve made some changes to make that more comparable.

“So I’m certainly happy to take it on board and have a look at it.”

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