ATO audit proposal inefficient, claims SMSF specialist

SuperAuditors has slammed a new ATO proposal designed to combat misuse of auditor numbers, labelling it a significant burden for SMSF auditors.

The proposal, currently being considered by the ATO, would require auditors to report every completed audit directly to the ATO, according to SuperAuditors director Shelley Banton.

Speaking to AccountantsDaily's sister publication, SMSF Adviser, Ms Banton said the proposed requirement would be an inefficient approach to tackling the misuse of auditor numbers.

“I’d hate to be sitting here doing an online eSAT report for every single audit we did,” she said.

“I would much prefer to receive a list from the ATO and cross-reference that way because all I need to do is check it against the system and make a few queries.”

Ms Banton said while cross-checking against a list from the ATO would be a far more efficient process, there are privacy laws the ATO is aware of “which has stopped the flow of information coming through to date”.

These privacy laws, she said, could be the reason the ATO is considering the proposal for auditors to report every audit instead.

The impact of this requirement on auditors will depend on the volume of audits being undertaken by the audit company, she added.

“If you’re only doing 20 audits, then you’ll be saying, well that’s not a problem; but if you’re doing several hundred or a thousand, then you have to do an eSAT report for each one,” she said.

Ms Banton said it remains unclear how complex the reporting would need to be.

“If you’re looking to get information from auditors you’re going to want as much information as you can,” she said. “I can’t imagine it’s going to be less onerous than what we’re already doing.”

However, BDO Australia partner Shirley Schaefer said that more reporting by auditors direct to the ATO, if implemented, would improve the communication channel between auditors and the ATO.

“At the moment, the only other time an auditor is required to report to the ATO is when there’s an auditor contravention report,” she said.

“So I think you might find that there will be more direct reporting to the ATO by all auditors for all audits that they do and that will tighten up on that problem and process.”

Ms Schaefer said the ATO will likely continue to take a closer look at the tax agents putting auditor details on audits that have not been done.

 

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