The ATO will introduce changes to the online services for auditors that will allow them to retain an electronic copy of any auditor contravention report (ACR) they lodge and to have their details prepopulated in future ACRs.
The regulator announced the changes on its website, basing it on feedback provided last month by approved SMSF auditors, noting the ability to save lodged ACRs would be in addition to the existing ability to print and save draft ACR forms in its online services for business portal.
It highlighted the ability to save lodged ACRs would replace the ability to view an auditor’s ACR lodgement history in the electronic superannuation audit tool (eSAT) after the latter is decommissioned in March 2022 and would side-step restrictions on access to historical ACRs.
“At the moment you can get a copy of your ACR form and your ACR history in eSAT as it is drawing this information from what is saved on the software program which is installed on your computer, making it your own record,” it said.
“When an ACR is lodged using online services for business, it is stored on the ATO’s systems, more specifically it is recorded on the ATO’s records for the SMSF. As such, your ACR lodgement history and/or a copy of a lodged ACR forms part of the SMSF records held with the ATO.
“Under our tax secrecy laws, once the ACR is lodged it becomes the ‘protected information’ of the SMSF as it relates to its tax affairs. We can only disclose the SMSF’s tax information to the SMSF itself and its ‘covered entities’, or for specific reasons where certain exceptions to disclosure may apply for tax administration purposes.”
It noted, unlike tax agents, auditors were not considered covered entities under tax law and it was prohibited from providing them with information about the SMSF, and the only disclosure exception that was relevant was when the ATO was carrying out taxation duties and may need to verify the content of the ACR.
“For these reasons we are unable to provide this historical view in online services for business. However, based on the feedback we received in the recent co-design sessions we are confident the enhancements being made will help to make your transition easier,” it said.
In addition to the ability to save ACRs, the ATO will also create the ability for auditors to enter their auditor details, which can then be used to prepopulate ACRs and audit complete advices (ACA).
The regulator also recommended that while eSAT was still available, auditors should switch to the online services for business portal to lodge ACR and ACA forms.