ATO, Tax

ATO making progress with annual return lodgement

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The ATO has made significant progress in its attempts to improve the rate of SMSF annual return lodgements after undertaking a program of work focusing on this compliance issue in 2018.

“We had a pool of about 87,000 SMSFs that hadn’t lodged their annual return and we got that down to about 66,000 through that work,” ATO SMSF segment assistant commissioner Dana Fleming told delegates at the SMSF Trustee Empowerment Day 2019 in Sydney yesterday.

In addition to this outcome, Fleming revealed positive results also had been achieved with regard to the most recent lodgement deadline this year.

“You will be all aware the 15 May deadline has just passed for lodgement and we had a 91 per cent lodgement rate on time, which is an absolutely fantastic outcome,” she said.

“So we’re really pleased and especially I say thank you to trustees and their tax agents and auditors who have had such a high compliance rate this year.”

She noted while lodging SMSF annual returns on time is something the regulator had identified as an ongoing problem, the SMSF sector’s compliance record was reasonable when compared to all ATO lodgements.

“We actually have, in the SMSF sector, one of the highest levels of lodgement across the ATO,” she said.

“On average, 86 per cent lodge on time, but we still want to work on the remaining 14 per cent obviously.”

According to Fleming, the ATO considered non-lodgement of annual returns to be a serious breach due to the flow-on effects it can have.

To this end, she revealed trustees who have not lodged a return since establishing their SMSF were at greater risk of participating in schemes promoting illegal early release of retirement savings benefits.

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