ATO, Auditing

Auditor number misuse identified

SMSF auditor number

The ATO has now identified the more serious cases of SMSF auditor number abuse and has vowed to prosecute tax agents connected with them.

ATO information analysis and investigation have allowed it to determine the types of SMSF auditor number abuse present in the sector and it has confirmed it will be pushing for legal prosecution of tax agents who have deliberately misused SMSF auditor numbers.

An ATO mail-out performed earlier this year allowed the regulator to acknowledge 1445 instances of auditor number abuse linked to 626 tax agents.

“On average so far 85 per cent are admin related, like where the data clerk didn’t update the numbers when the fund changed the auditor and instances like that, and we’re not imposing any penalties for anything like that. We just want them to correct the records,” ATO SMSF segment assistant commissioner Dana Fleming said at the Self-managed Independent Superannuation Funds Association 2019 SMSF Forum in Melbourne recently.

“But 15 per cent are deliberate. We’ve referred five tax agents to the Tax Practitioners Board during the last financial year for this type of misuse, but there is one more egregious instance, and there’ll probably be another one or two, we’ve listed for criminal treatment.”

Fleming said the situations the ATO is treating most seriously are where tax agents have taken fees for audits and falsely forged the auditor’s signature to pretend the audit has been done.

“This is something we haven’t focused a lot on, but I’m hoping one or two convictions will focus the tax agents’ minds on the fact that it is important that they do comply and get the audit work done and not take money [when the fund has not been audited],” she noted.

The misuse of SMSF auditor numbers has been a problem ever since 1 July 2013 when these practitioners were required to register with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Auditors raised the issue with the regulator in April 2014.

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