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Super update from the ATO

Written on the 1 March 2014

Some SMSF statistics

As at 30 September 2013, there were over 516,000 SMSFs holding around $531 billion in assets.

Although SMSFs are nearing one million SMSF members (980,000), or 8% of the 11.6 million members of Australian super funds, they account for 31% of the $1.6 trillion total super assets as at 30 June 2013.

Common problems and ATO audit action.

The top contraventions reported to the ATO on auditor contravention reports relate to:

  • loans;
  • borrowings;
  • a lack of separation of assets;
  • in-house assets;
  • not investing at arm’s length;
  • making acquisitions from related parties; and
  • sole purpose breaches.

This year the ATO will review every fund reported to it by approved SMSF auditors.

In 2012/13, the ATO's audits:

  • made 150 funds non-complying; and
  • disqualified 440 people from being a trustee.

New ATO powers and penalties

The government has announced that, from 1 July 2014, administrative penalties will apply to breaches of the super laws (note that this is still just proposed law at this stage).
If the proposed legislation is adopted, SMSF trustees will be personally liable for penalties between $850 and $10,200, depending on the provision contravened.
As trustees will become personally liable for these new penalties, they cannot use the resources of the fund to pay the penalty.
While the start date is 1 July 2014, it should be appreciated that contraventions, such as loans to members or relatives, still existing on that date will come under the new penalty regime.
The ATO says the message for SMSF trustees is clear: "Rectify any contraventions as soon as possible or be liable for a penalty."


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