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ATO, Regulation

Sector angst over administrative penalties

SMSF administrative penalties

Recent events indicate the ATO has changed how it issues SMSF administrative penalties for legislative breaches, raising concerns among the sector.

Concerns have arisen in the SMSF sector over how the ATO is applying administrative penalties for certain breaches of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) (SIS) Act, with a view the regulator’s approach has significantly changed recently.

“There have been some cases recently where a fund has copped not just a single admin penalty, but a number of admin penalties for the same breach,” SuperConcepts technical services and education general manager Peter Burgess told delegates at the SMSF Professionals Day 2019, co-hosted by selfmanagedsuper and SuperConcepts, in Adelaide yesterday.

“So it could be the same breach of a provision for a number of years, but we always thought you cop only one admin penalty. It appears that now trustees are incurring admin penalties for every breach.

“So there seems to be a change in the way the ATO is now applying administration penalties.”

He noted in a recent case that one SMSF incurred significant administrative penalties for a repeated breach of the same SIS Act provision that happened over a number of years.

As such, he said the sector is eagerly awaiting clarification from the ATO later in the year by way of a Law Administration Practice Statement as to how these penalties are issued.

“We are looking forward to seeing this statement being released so we can see how do they actually apply these admin penalties,” he said.

The statement is expected to be released in September.

The ATO introduced administration penalties for certain breaches of the SIS Act on 1 July 2014. These include non-adherence to provisions such as those governing loans to members and relatives, in-house assets, operating standards, and the duty to keep minutes of meetings.

Penalties are payable by trustees rather than the fund itself and are levied for each SMSF trustee.

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