Trustees anticipating regulatory contraventions for their fund as a result of COVID-19 should voluntarily disclose their issues without delay, the ATO has said.
Highlighting the difficulties brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, ATO SMSF segment deputy commissioner Steven Keating urged trustees to use the regulator’s voluntary disclosure program to reveal potential compliance issues for their fund to the ATO sooner rather than later.
“In times like this, we recognise that right now our primary focus needs to be about supporting and providing assistance to trustees,” Keating said during a Smarter SMSF webinar today.
“Consequently, we’ve decided to suspend our usual audit program. We are only engaging with those clients who initiate contact with us.
“This is mainly through our voluntary disclosure program.”
By voluntarily disclosing details of a potential contravention by their fund, trustees would be providing the regulator with an opportunity to come up with a “resolution pathway”, he pointed out.
“If [you] are a trustee, or have clients that have unresolved compliance issues, the best advice I can offer is that [you] reach out to us now and take advantage of our voluntary disclosure service,” he said.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is for SMSF trustees to come to us with their issues first before we go to them through an audit.”
Keating’s message of voluntary disclosure repeats earlier warnings from the ATO which has seen hundreds of trustees use the program but also called on trustees to continue to come forward if they had any problems related to their fund.
Last week, Keating revealed the ATO was close to finalising a course for SMSF trustees that would give the regulator more comfort the appropriate individuals were the ones looking to run their own super fund and understood the accompanying legal aspects of doing so.
In June, the Institute of Public Accountants warned individuals who had used a COVID-19 economic relief measure to gain early release of their super could yet face penalties if they were deemed to have been ineligible for the instrument.