Compliance, Education, SMSF

ATO education course takes shape

ATO Justin Micale SMSF trustee education illegal early access

The ATO will soon release the next stage of its SMSF trustee education material and has asked practitioners to reinforce its messages around preventing illegal early access.

The ATO has progressed plans to provide further education to SMSF trustees noting this was a key part of its efforts to prevent illegal early access of superannuation monies while urging advice professionals to reinforce its messages to fund members.

“I’m pleased to advise we are making good progress on the development of our new SMSF trustee education course, consisting of several online learning modules based on the lifecycle of an SMSF,” ATO assistant commissioner Justin Micale told delegates of The Tax Institute Superannuation Intensive yesterday.

“We also have a new guide in development, the Running an SMSF publication which complements the existing Starting and Winding-up publications, and it will be available on our website soon,” he revealed.

Further he pointed out the sector watchdog had also released a fact sheet with regard to illegal early access of benefits, a leading area of concern for the regulator, that had been promoted strongly to employer, industry, and community groups providing guidance as to when a fund member could legally access their super benefits and warning against the dangers of promoters.

“This is a serious issue as it impacts the integrity and reputation of the sector and as the consequences are significant, for the trustee personally and the broader community, we need to work together to make sure trustees are playing by the rules,” he noted.

“As we all know, prevention is better than cure, so a core focus for us is providing support and guidance products, undertaking new registrant reviews, and removing SMSFs from superfund lookup where they fail to comply.”

According to recently released ATO data an estimated $637 million of retirement savings has exited the system due to illegal early access activities.

To this end Micale again stressed the role practitioners can play in rectifying the situation.

“Given your professional standing in the community it means people pay attention to your perspective. What you say matters so in all settings take the opportunity to bust myths and help people understand when they can legitimately access their retirement savings,” he said.

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