The ATO has confirmed it has scrapped the original plan to send letters to SMSF auditors regarding the new auditor independence standards and will be publishing detailed guidance on its website instead.
In an update on its website, the ATO confirmed it would no longer go ahead with its initial mail-out to individual SMSF auditors regarding its approach to audit compliance under the restructured APES 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants.
Rather than reaching out to audit firms directly, the regulator stated it would publish guidance on its website by March, highlighting potential hurdles for auditors adapting to the requirements of the new code.
“After further consideration and consultation with industry stakeholders we have decided, in lieu of writing to auditing firms, to publish detailed guidance on our website,” the ATO said.
“This web content will provide SMSF auditing firms and tax professionals guidance on the independence standards under the code and our position on key issues of concern to industry, including in relation to in-house audits.”
ASF Audits head of education Shelley Banton first highlighted the ATO’s changed approach in December, noting the ATO had opted to further aid SMSF auditors with guidance via its website contrary to industry expectations the regulator was to embark on a campaign of sending letters to all SMSF auditors.
“Providing guidance [on our website] will enable us to provide targeted up-to-date information to auditors to help them meet their obligations and allow us to respond quickly to any changes, emerging issues and future guidance needs,” the ATO added.
“We are currently finalising the content of our guidance, which we expect to publish by March 2021, and will advise auditors when this occurs.”
In a separate update on its website, the regulator also clarified its process of sending SMSF alerts to trustees via email upon certain changes being made to their fund.
Such alerts are intended to inform trustees of changes such as an update of the fund’s financial institution account details or its electronic service address, and should only be acted on if the trustee was not aware of such changes being made, the ATO pointed out.
“These alerts are being sent to you to let you know when changes are being made to your SMSF’s details and to mitigate the risk of them being fraudulently changed,” it added.
To this end the regulator called on trustees to ensure correct mobile phone number and email addresses have been provided to it to enable the proper communication of these alerts.