The ATO has celebrated its 20th anniversary as the SMSF regulator, marking the sector’s growth over that time to almost one third of the current $2.76 trillion total of Australian superannuation assets.
Since 1999, the number of SMSF members has grown from 387,000 with $55 billion in assets to 1.1 million SMSF members with almost $750 billion in assets.
ATO assistant commissioner Dana Fleming said, “The importance of good governance of the sector cannot be underestimated. As the sole regulator of SMSFs we are conscious of the significant responsibility of safeguarding 1.1 million Australians’ retirement savings.”
The number of SMSFs has increased to 600,000 from 200,000 in 1999, with over 20,000 new SMSFs established yearly.
“Many Australians want to take, and are taking, control of their retirement savings. Our aim is to help trustees to be able to make informed decisions by understanding their responsibilities and of course, where necessary we will take action to maintain the integrity of the SMSF sector for all other SMSF members,” Fleming said
“We know most people in the sector want to do the right thing and operate within the rules and regulations. For this reason, our primary focus is to support trustees and their advisers by providing the tools, services, technical guidance and assistance to enable them to appropriately manage and protect their retirement savings.”
In its role as regulator, the ATO has addressed many instances of non-compliance within the sector. These have resulted in the disqualification of nearly 3,500 SMSF trustees over the last 20 years, with more than 600 SMSFs being made non-complying and 145 SMSF approved auditors being referred to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission for further action.
“To continue to protect the SMSF sector for the next 20 years and beyond, we’re using sophisticated data and intelligence to focus our compliance activities on key risks we’ve identified, such as the illegal early release of super,” Fleming said.
“We know that our best success comes from working with SMSF trustees and advisers in a partnership with a common interest to ensure that SMSFs remain a key part of the superannuation sector. We thank the industry for their support in our shared successes.
“We therefore look forward to continuing our work with the SMSF industry to ensure the retirement savings of everyday Australians are protected and the integrity of Australia’s world class superannuation system is maintained.”