Early access audit role noted

auditors superannuation access

The role of SMSF auditors has been stipulated by the ATO with regard to the early super access COVID-19 relief instrument.

The ATO has confirmed the professional obligations SMSF auditors have with regard to individuals who apply for early access to their superannuation benefits under the government’s COVID-19 economic relief measures.

“Some auditors have been worried actually about whether we would expect them to check whether the trustee has met some of the eligibility criteria for compassionate early release [of super], such as whether the member had been made redundant or had their working hours reduced by 20 per cent or more,” ATO SMSF auditor portfolio director Kellie Grant revealed during a recent one-on-one webinar with SMSF Association technical manager Mary Simmons.

“We won’t be expecting them to do that. All we require them to do in relation to verifying the trustee’s compliance with [Superannuation Industry (Supervision)] regulation 6.17 is to ensure they have not illegally early accessed the money.”

Grant said SMSF auditors are expected to ensure the fund’s trust deed allows the release of benefits on compassionate grounds and to check the trustees received a copy of the release determination from the ATO confirming its satisfaction the grounds for early access to superannuation have been met.

Further, she specified auditors need to check the date on this determination to satisfy themselves that the early release of benefits was paid after the ATO directive has been received.

“They should also check the fund’s bank statements [to make sure] that the amounts stipulated in the determination is the same amount as the amount that was released by the fund,” she said.

“And they should also check the benefit payment has actually been recorded in the relevant member’s account.”

She pointed out the ATO will be undertaking post-issue compliance work to ensure members have met the eligibility criteria and will be applying appropriate penalties if it is determined the member made false and misleading statements in their application for the relief instrument.

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