A more lenient approach by the ATO towards late lodgers who are actively rectifying their overdue SMSF returns has helped bring down the rate of non-lodgements, according to one SMSF auditor.
In October last year, the ATO reported that non-lodgement rates for the SMSF sector had reached critical levels with around 40,000 funds at risk of being made non-compliant at the time.
By February this year, the number of SMSFs who had either never lodged an SMSF return or had more than two years of overdue returns had dropped to around 30,000 funds.
ATO deputy commissioner James O’Halloran said the remaining funds would be a key compliance target in the 2018-19 financial year.
BDO national leader for superannuation Shirley Schaefer said while the SMSF industry is still working with a number of SMSF trustees to bring their accounts and audits up to date, the number of lodgements is continuing to fall.
“Clearly the ATO has done some work around this and it’s promoted trustees to do something and get it into line so I think that’s seen a reduction,” she said.
“Interestingly enough, with some of the ones that I've been dealing with, where it is a significant number of years going backwards, the ATO seems to be happy so long as the trustees engage an accountant or an administrator to take them under their wing and help them get it done. Their main focus is that people get it started if nothing else.”
Ms Schaefer said one SMSF trustee she came across had more than ten years of returns overdue.
“We had a very tight time frame to get it done in but when I spoke to the tax office they said look ‘we'll close the audit on the fund, we just need to know that it's underway, as soon as you've done the first year and you've got draft accounts send them to us so that we know that the process has been started’,” she said.
“They just want go see that it's being sorted it out.”
By Miranda Brownlee
14 September 2018