Speaking at the SMSF Association National Conference in February this year, ATO assistant commissioner Dana Fleming announced that before the end of the 2018–19 financial year, the ATO would publish the details of disqualified SMSF trustees on its website so that SMSF professionals would be able to identify these individuals more easily.
“The information in the register is all already publicly available through gazettal notices, but we want to make this information more readily accessible,” Ms Fleming said at the conference.
“Allowing advisers and others to easily search for disqualified trustees is just another way that we can work with our industry partners to help protect the integrity of the SMSF sector.”
The register of disqualified trustees shows the names of individuals who were disqualified between October 2012 and December last year, with a breakdown of state or country and postcode. A link to a gazettal notice has also been provided for each disqualification.
In an online update about the register, the ATO stated that the register has been introduced following feedback from SMSF professionals that it was difficult to determine if a new client had been disqualified.
“When setting up an SMSF and appointing trustees, it’s necessary to ensure a trustee hasn’t been disqualified due to past contraventions or if we’ve identified them as not ‘fit and proper’ to be a trustee,” the ATO stated.
“We’re now providing you with a disqualified trustees register to help identify, and prevent from re-entering the sector, those who’ve been disqualified.”
The said register will be updated quarterly and includes trustees who have been disqualified since 2012, when this information was first published electronically.
Based on data published in the register as of 6 May 2019, the register indicates that there were 160 trustees disqualified for the 2018 calendar year.
This was a reduction from the 382 trustees that were disqualified in the 2017 calendar.
In terms of trustee disqualifications in different states and territories in Australia, NSW had the highest number of trustee disqualifications at 1,103, followed by Victoria at 665 and Queensland at 544.
The Northern Territory had the lowest number of disqualifications with just 13 disqualifications and the ACT had the second least with only 23 during the relevant period.
There were also six disqualified trustees on the register who had overseas postcodes listed from New Zealand, the UK or the USA.
The ATO said on its website that, when deciding whether to disqualify a trustee, it will take into account how serious the contraventions are, how many contraventions have occurred and how likely it is they will continue to be non-compliant.
“An individual may be disqualified as an SMSF trustee for not being a ‘fit and proper person’. Personal character is considered along with the circumstances surrounding any contraventions,” it explained.
“We will write to disqualified trustees detailing our decision. This information is published in the Government Notices Gazette. Individuals who have been disqualified from being an SMSF trustee can apply to have the decision reviewed.”