Administration, ATO

ATO updates guidance on fund error disclosure

The ATO has released guidance on how superannuation fund members, including those within SMSFs, can make voluntary disclosures in the event of errors related to payment or reporting obligations.

In the guidance, the regulator stated the disclosures could range from routine matters to complex situations, including systemic errors that had occurred over a period of time, and highlighted what information funds, and trustees, should provide in their disclosures.

Apart from identifying documentation for the individual and the relevant fund, the ATO also recommended disclosures include the time period during which any issues may have taken place, any impact on members’ funds in dollar values and the number of members affected.

It also requested information on how any errors arose and whether they were created by a member’s fund, a third-party fund or an administrator acting on behalf of the member or fund.

How the errors were discovered and whether they were an isolated or systemic issue also had to be disclosed, as did any actions that had been taken or planned to address the issue.

The regulator stated it would take a risk-based approach to resolving issues that were made known to it by voluntary disclosure by ensuring fixes were developed to prevent recurrence of the issue into the future.

“We work with funds to understand the risk and population of members involved, which often requires funds to provide further information. This approach is more efficient than the alternatives, such as requiring full reporting and adjustment,” it said.

“We’ll work with you to resolve reporting errors in a way that minimises your costs while meeting your obligations and protecting member benefits.”

The guidance follows Argyle Lawyers managing principal Peter Bobbin’s observation in February that SMSF trustees can avoid penalties from the ATO if they rectify issues and provide evidence of that work where a serious breach of obligations may have occurred.

Bobbin said the key actions SMSF trustees should take when a fund may be penalised are to engage in as much rectification work as possible and to offer a complete solution to the ATO that removed the need for the regulator to act.

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