Disqualified trustee numbers decline

The ATO has published a list of around 3000 disqualified SMSF trustees following feedback from SMSF advisers that it was difficult to determine if a new client had been disqualified.

The list includes the names of 2862 individuals who were disqualified between October 2012 and December 2018, with a breakdown of state, country and postcode.

An analysis of the register shows there has been a continuous decline in the number of disqualifications since 2014. Prior to that, 88 trustees were disqualified in the closing months of 2012 and 519 were disqualified in 2013, before the number climbed to 674 trustees disqualifications in 2014.

This number, however, dropped to 577 in 2015, 462 in 2016 and 382 in 2017. Only 160 disqualifications were recorded in 2018, which is the last full year with data recorded in the register.

That final figure represents around 0.014 per cent of the total number of 1,129,542 SMSF members reported in the ATO’s March 2019 quarterly statistical report on SMSFs.

In an online update, the SMSF regulator said: “We are now providing the disqualified trustees register to help identify, and prevent from re-entering the sector, those who’ve been disqualified. The register will be updated quarterly and includes trustees who have been disqualified since 2012, when this information was first published electronically.”

Speaking at the SMSF Association National Conference 2019 in Melbourne in February, ATO assistant commissioner Dana Fleming announced the register would be published on the ATO website, which would collate already-released banning notices so SMSF professionals would be able to identify these individuals more easily.

According to Fleming, illegal early release of funds and loans to members were the main reasons for disqualification, with other reasons including unrectified contraventions reported through auditor contravention reports, taking part in tax planning arrangements such as dividend stripping, and non-lodgement of the SMSF annual return.

At the time, she also said that in the 2018 financial year, the ATO had disqualified 257 trustees representing 169 SMSFs. In the current financial year, it so far has disqualified 75 trustees representing 53 funds.

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