In June 2020, the ATO published guidance on the restructured APES 110 Code Ethics for Professional Accountants and the APESB Independence Guide.
The ATO previously advised that it would be writing to audit firms during the 2020–21 financial year to assist SMSF auditors to comply with their requirements under the restructured code.
After further consideration and consultation with industry stakeholders, the ATO has now stated that in in lieu of writing to auditing firms, it will publish detailed guidance on its website.
“This web content will provide SMSF auditing firms and tax professionals guidance on the independence standards under the code and our position on key issues of concern to industry, including in relation to in-house audits,” the Tax Office said.
“Providing guidance in this format will enable us to provide targeted up-to-date information to auditors to help them meet their obligations and allow us to respond quickly to any changes, emerging issues and future guidance needs.”
The ATO stated that it is currently finalising the content of its guidance and that it expects to publish it by March 2021, and will advise auditors when this occurs.
ASF Audits head of education Shelley Banton flagged that the ATO would no longer plan to send letters to SMSF auditors in a recent Accurium webinar, with the guidance to be published on the ATO’s website instead.
“They will be is issuing some further general guidance in the new year and that will be in relation to their view of some of those restructuring arrangements which have arisen from the application of the revised independence standards,” Ms Banton explained.
“So, no SMSF auditor letters, and I guess part of the rationale for that is that having that information on their website will allow them to respond a lot more quickly to any situations and scenarios that may arise as a result of people trying to get around these independence requirements. It provides them with a more flexible tool in that respect.”