SMSF practitioners should inform clients establishing a new fund the ATO may try to contact them directly and a failure to communicate with the regulator can result in it not being registered.
SMSF Alliance principal David Busoli said the possibility of the ATO communicating with the trustees of a new SMSF during its registration process was not a recent development, but it was happening more often with trustees unsure if the initial contact was legitimate.
“The trustees, wary of phone scams, are not always answering the unknown number that is trying to call them,” Busoli said in a note to clients.
“The ATO attempts to contact each trustee three times, over a week, and leave a voice message and text message where possible.
“These messages require a response within 21 days of the first attempt. If there has been no contact within the 21 days, the ATO sends a letter advising that the fund has been withdrawn from the registration process and from Super Fund Lookup.
“The trustees then have 60 days to lodge an objection with the ATO or the matter will be closed.”
He pointed out trustees were able to verify it was the ATO when calling, but had to ensure their contact details were up to date as well.
“The ATO references the fund name and invite the trustee to phone back or to check the ATO’s contact numbers online so that they can be sure that this is not a scam,” he said.
“As the ATO uses contact details held on MyGov, the attempt at contact will fail if the details are not current.”
According to Busoli when making contact, the regulator will expect the trustees of a new SMSF to be familiar with the ATO trustee declaration they have signed and will ask questions, including who are the trustees of the fund, their intentions for it and their awareness of trustee obligations.
“Advisers should ensure that trustees are aware of these issues before submitting a new fund application,” he suggested.
“Advisers who ensure their new trustees understand these matters can avoid significant disruption to the registration process.”