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Further guidance needed on reporting of rental deferrals

Further information is needed from the ATO on the reporting requirements for rental relief, as rent deferral can only be treated as an “off balance sheet” item under tax basis of accounting and is not reflected in the SMSF’s statement of financial position, says an audit firm.

SMSF Miranda Brownlee 27 August 2020
— 1 minute read

Reliance Auditing managing director Naz Randeria said it’s possible that SMSF professionals may interpret and apply the reporting requirements of rent deferral differently and that there is further clarification needed on this.

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The ATO has provided guidance which requires rent deferral to be reported on the Statement of Financial Position as a “loan receivable”, Ms Randeria explained.

“The loan or rent receivable reported on the balance sheet from a related party will be an in-house asset for the fund. However, the ATO has provided compliance concessions, stating that they will generally not take compliance action in relation to potential breaches associated with the rent relief granted under the COVID-19-related measures.”

As SMSFs are treated as non-reporting entities, she said, trustees prepare the financial statements in accordance with the accounting policies as described in the notes of the financial report.

Currently, the accounting policy from the SMSF software providers read “Rental revenue arising from operating leases on investment properties is recognised upon receipt”, or “Rent from investment properties is recognised by the fund on a cash receipt basis”, she explained.

“This means an SMSF would recognise and declare rental income as assessable income when it is actually received by the fund. Therefore, under tax basis of accounting, rent deferral can only be treated as an ‘off balance sheet’ item and not be reflected in the SMSF’s statement of financial position. Consequently, the fund will never end up recording an in-house asset for the rent deferral,” she stated.

On the other hand, Ms Randeria said there is no prohibition on related-party tenants claiming a deduction for the rent paid and deferred in their business tax returns.

“However, under the current reporting framework included in the basis of preparation, the SMSF will not report a loan receivable on the balance sheet which will not result in an in-house asset and, consequently, there will be no qualification from the auditor and no need for a contravention,” she said.

“The ATO will have no basis to undertake any compliance action for an item that is not reported in the SMSF financial statements or tax returns on cessation of the ensuing 24 months moratorium for SMSFs that may want to circumnavigate the requirements.”

As SMSF professionals may interpret and apply the reporting requirements of rent deferral differently, Ms Randeria said it would be great to get some further clarification from the ATO on this issue.

Further guidance needed on reporting of rental deferrals
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