The ATO is conducting field research into the COVID-19 minimum pension drawdown relief measure and the extent to which it has been adopted by SMSFs.
According to the regulator’s website, market research companies GFK Australia and Glow Platform have been tasked with surveying SMSFs to understand “their awareness, uptake and intention to take advantage of the COVID-19 stimulus measure allowing the halving of the minimum pension drawdown amount”.
In an update on its website, accounting and consulting firm BDO Australia pointed out many trustees had already received an invitation to take part in the ATO’s survey, which is being conducted during September and October.
Following feedback from clients who were unsure of the legitimacy of the survey, BDO Australia assured trustees the survey was no cause for concern.
“BDO will be providing feedback directly to the ATO to highlight the survey request may be causing some SMSF trustees unnecessary concern,” it added.
Specific questions covered by the survey include whether trustees are aware the minimum pension payment factors for the 2020 and 2021 financial years have been halved, and if funds have taken, or intend to take up, the option to reduce the minimum pension payment for each of those years.
The survey also asks trustees whether they have sought advice during the past 12 months from either the ATO, auditors, tax agents or financial advisers.
Earlier this month, ATO data revealed SMSF trustees in retirement have on average been drawing down significantly more than the minimum pension, even before the minimum pension drawdown amount was halved as a COVID-19 financial relief measure.
In August, SMSF Association technical manager Mary Simmons said the ATO’s treatment of excess pension payments for the 2020 financial year was an example of how retrospective law changes could disadvantage retirees.