ATO, Superannuation

ATO warns against SMSF promoters

SMSF promoters

Super fund members have been warned to avoid and report to the ATO anyone who promotes SMSFs as an early access scheme.

The ATO has warned superannuation fund members to avoid ‘SMSF promoters’ who put forward the establishment of a fund as a way to gain early access to retirement savings and that such illegal schemes are often also linked to identify theft.

“When running your SMSF it’s important to know that accessing your super can be illegal at times,” the ATO stated in an update directed at fund members.

“You should also be wary of people, known as ‘promoters’, who want to help you set up an SMSF for the purpose of illegally accessing your super.

“As a trustee of a SMSF it is your responsibility to ensure that if you are accessing your super early, you are doing this within super laws.”

The ATO directed fund members to a new fact sheet, “Accessing your super early may be illegal”, which warned of the dangers of using a promoter and urging people to call the regulator if they are contacted about early access to their superannuation savings.

“Some people may say they can help you set up an SMSF so you can access your super for reasons such as paying off your credit card, buying a house or to go on a holiday. This is not true, it is illegal,” the fact sheet stated.

“These people (known as ‘promoters’) will often charge you a lot of money, tell you to transfer some or all your super from your existing super fund to the SMSF, tell you that you can use as much as you need for personal expenses.”

The fact sheet noted the promoters may also ask for personal information, which could lead to the theft of the member’s identity and superannuation money, and any approaches from promoters should prompt the member to contact the ATO.

“If a promoter contacts you, call us straightaway to get advice. Do not agree to anything and do not sign any documents or give them your personal details,” the ATO advised.

Earlier this month, the ATO provided warnings about tax-avoidance and asset protection schemes being promoted for use with SMSFs, asking advice practitioners and trustees to report any schemes they find.

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