ATO list crucial for SAN integrity

ATO list SMSF auditor

Moves by the ATO to send out a list of audited funds is an important step in helping auditors prevent further misuse of their SMSF auditor number.

Auditors should pay close attention to the annual list of audited SMSFs from the ATO to ensure their SMSF auditor number (SAN) has not been misused, according to an auditor whose SAN was wrongfully used other service providers.

“I’ve been talking to other auditors and have told them to check your lists, check them twice, and get back to the tax office [if there is a fund on the list for which you haven’t performed an audit] because they could be [more than just] innocent mistakes,” Elite Super managing director Katrina Fletcher warned.

While the ATO has found the majority of cases of SAN numbers being misused were not deliberate, she urged SMSF auditors to make use of the lists provided by the ATO to ensure they were not in a similar predicament to hers.

With regard to improved policing of illegitimate SAN use Fletcher acknowledged the list of audited funds the regulator sends to practitioners upon request was a significant positive initiative.

“I think with the lists that come out now it’s just easy to pick where someone’s taken your number. I think that’s a really good, proactive approach [the ATO has] taken,” she said.

Fletcher discovered the most recent instance of her SAN’s misuse when reviewing the ATO’s list of funds that had used her audit number.

Before the ATO provided the list of audited funds, it had been difficult to ascertain whether an auditor’s number was being wrongfully used by others, she added.

To illustrate this point Fletcher cited her experience of discovering another operator’s misuse of her SAN only after an SMSF trustee claimed she was holding up the audit of his fund, a fund that turned out to be one she wasn’t servicing.

In September, ATO SMSF future client experience director Edward Chung said nearly 1500 possible cases of SAN misuse by more than 600 tax agents had been found as part of a compliance program undertaken earlier in the year.

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