The Tax Practitioners Board will now follow up on an ATO SMSF compliance campaign that sought to uncover tax agents who had used an SMSF auditor number (SAN) without the authority of the auditor.
The review identified 74 tax practitioners representing 106 funds that lodged 2017 and 2018 SMSF annual returns with an incorrect, perhaps fraudulently recorded, SAN.
The ATO failed to receive satisfactory responses from the 74 practitioners and has now referred them to the TPB for further action.
Deliberate SAN misuse has been an ongoing concern for the Tax Office, with cases dating back to 2015 where tax agents charged their SMSF clients for an audit despite an audit never occurring.
TPB chair Ian Klug said the board would ensure the issues were thoroughly investigated, and apply heavy sanctions where needed.
“SMSF trustees rely on their superannuation savings to fund their retirement. The Australian government relies on regulators like the TPB, the ATO and tax practitioners to ensure that these funds are properly managed,” Mr Klug said.
“The TPB will be demanding an explanation from all 74 tax practitioners. Misconduct or failure to adequately respond to the TPB’s inquiries is a breach of the Code of Professional Conduct and may result in imposition of sanctions including suspension or termination of registration.”
Instances where an SMSF annual return has been lodged prior to an audit being finalised is understood to be “not uncommon” in the industry, in a bid to avoid late lodgement penalties.
The ATO’s COVID-19 response has included automatic lodgement deferrals for SMSF 2018–19 annual returns due on 15 May 2020 and 5 June 2020, to a new due date of 30 June 2020.
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.