ATO releases SMSF establishment guide


The ATO has released a detailed guide for individuals interested in establishing an SMSF, pointing out the importance of professional advice in the process.

The ATO has recognised the role of financial advice in the SMSF sector following the release of the first of three guides outlining the establishment of a fund and the obligations of trustees.

The guide covers a range of entry-level information for those considering an SMSF, including what an SMSF is, choosing a fund structure, appointing trustees, registering a fund and the ownership of assets.

In particular, the ATO advised individuals interested in establishing an SMSF should contact a professional adviser due to the complex superannuation and taxation laws surrounding the sector.

“You may need an SMSF professional to help establish your fund and for the ongoing running of your fund. While you can do a lot yourself, some professional support is mandatory. Choose someone who is qualified, registered and licensed, and right for you and your circumstances,” it said.

The nearly 30-page publication includes a list of appropriate advice professionals, including tax agents and accountants, fund administrators, legal practitioners, financial advisers, approved SMSF auditors and actuaries.

To that end, the ATO included the circumstances in which each advice professional could provide help with the establishment and running of an SMSF, including the creation of an investment strategy, setting out a trust deed and completing SMSF annual returns.

It also noted financial advisers and approved SMSF auditors made a significant contribution to the SMSF sector and highlighted their role in ensuring funds met their compliance obligations.

Individuals who have deemed an SMSF a viable option can continue to follow the guidelines as the ATO has provided step-by-step instructions in an attempt to minimise the difficulty of complying with the various legal obligations.

“There are many benefits to having an SMSF, however, it’s a major responsibility and getting it wrong can have financial impacts, so it’s important to ensure you understand your obligations,” the regulator said.

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