The ATO has opted to further aid any SMSF auditor looking to address the amended independence standard with additional guidance it will post on its website, a specialist practitioner has said.
The move is contrary to industry expectations that the regulator was about to embark on a campaign of sending letters to all SMSF auditors in an effort to clarify actions needing to be taken to comply with the modified independence standard.
“I can share with you that the ATO won’t be publishing letters to SMSF auditors. What they will be doing is [posting] some further general guidance on their website early in the new year,” ASF Audits head of education Shelley Banton told attendees of the Accurium technical webinar held today.
“That will be in relation to their view with respect to some of those restructuring arrangements which have arisen from the application of the revised independence standards.
“So no SMSF auditor letters and I guess part of the rationale is that having the information on their website will allow them to respond a lot more quickly to any situations and scenarios that arise as a result of people trying to get around these independence standards.”
According to Banton, there is no set time frame dictating when the ATO will have the information on its website, but she is hoping it will occur in early January 2021.
“As we know, things are being delayed at the moment because of COVID so I guess it [will have to be a matter] of watch this space,” she said.
This is the second time the ATO has adjusted its approach to the issue. Firstly, it had proposed contacting accounting firms on its database showing that the SMSF audit may be being performed by an individual working in the same organisation responsible for preparing the fund’s financial statements.
Later the regulator indicated it would be writing letters to all SMSF auditors rather than just those operating out of firms identified as being a potential compliance risk.
The ATO has been unwavering in its stance that adherence to the amended auditor independence standards is compulsory.