Auditor portal updated, privacy warning issued

SMSF auditors portal

The ATO has updated its online portal for SMSF auditors and reminded them the information lodged falls under privacy laws.

The ATO has made a number of enhancements to its online portal for SMSF auditors and issued a reminder of the protected nature of information lodged in auditor contravention reports (ACR).

The regulator stated the enhancements to Online Services for Business (OSB) that relate to auditors will improve the experience of lodging ACRs and audit complete advices (ACA), including the ability to enter and save auditor details that can be used to prepopulate ACRs and ACAs.

Additionally, the ATO added clearer messaging on the confirmation-of-lodgement screen and will allow the downloading of draft and lodged ACRs and the ability to save up to 150 draft ACR forms for up to six months.

Other enhancements include the removal of the prepopulation of the current year in both the ACR and ACA forms and larger text boxes in ACR forms with increased character limits.

The ATO added that with the decommissioning of its electronic superannuation audit tool (eSAT) on 1 March, OSB was now the digital channel auditors should be using to lodge ACR and ACA forms and eSAT can be uninstalled from desktop computers.

It also reminded SMSF auditors that once they lodged an ACR or ACA in OSB, under tax secrecy laws they become protected information of the SMSF.

“We can only disclose an SMSF’s tax information to its trustees and ‘covered entities’. Unlike tax agents, auditors aren’t considered ‘covered entities’ under tax law,” it stated in an update.

“Currently there are no disclosure exceptions in the tax law unless specific conditions are met.

“For example, if we’re looking to take compliance action against a fund and need to verify some of the content on the ACR, we can disclose the record to your auditor for the purpose of carrying out our duties as regulator.”

It noted auditors could still access historical records held on eSAT and will be reminded to download and save a copy of any ACR lodged via OSB for their own record-keeping purposes.

In a separate update, the ATO reminded SMSFs that are required to lodge an SMSF annual return (SAR) for 2020/21 on 15 May that they should appoint an auditor by 1 April to meet the SAR lodgement deadline.

“In preparation for your lodgement, you also need to complete a market valuation of all your assets, prepare your fund’s financial statements and provide signed copies of these to your auditor so they can determine your financial position and your fund’s compliance with super laws,” it said.

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