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Scanned documents not acceptable

scanned SMSF documents

Superannuation law and other pieces of legislation do not allow the use of scanned copies of documents as an official record for a fund.

A technical manager has confirmed retaining only scanned copies of official SMSF documents such as a trust deed will not be considered sufficient from a record-keeping perspective.

Heffron senior SMSF technical specialist Annie Dawson revealed legislation does exist allowing the use of electronic versions of official documents, but exclusions regarding other acts of law rule out this practice for superannuation funds.

“The issue for us is there are a still a lot of acts which aren’t able to apply [the Electronic Transactions Act] to their record-keeping obligations. At the moment [legislation] including the Corporations Act and Regulations and also most of the SIS (Superannuation Industry (Supervision)) Act and Regulations are currently excluded,” Dawson told delegates at the Heffron Super Intensive Day 2021 today.

“[This] means we can’t rely on keeping electronic copies [of official] documents for our reporting and record-keeping obligations.”

She pointed out legislative restrictions are not the only elements holding SMSF trustees from using scanned copies of documents for their record-keeping, adding there are some practical implications also requiring consideration.

“In some cases we still need [original documents]. We need originals when we’re opening bank accounts, when financial advisers are doing their KYC (know your client) obligations they will need to sight original [trust] deeds, and sometimes the title office will need that,” she said.

Further, she noted while organisations such as the ATO will mostly accept the copy of a document as an official record, it still has the ability to ask to see the original version.

As such, she suggested advisers ensure their SMSF clients adhere to the following practice.

“What’s important is that you are not purging all those original documents. So take copies and then record where the originals [are stored]. If it means that you are giving them to clients, just make them aware that we’re waiting for the legislation to catch up with what’s happening in practice,” she advised.

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