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Tax professionals told to watch for ‘warnings signs’ of illegal early access


The ATO says tax and super professionals play a critical role in helping address illegal early access to super. 

By Miranda Brownlee 9 minute read

The ATO is urging tax professionals to watch for potential illegal access of super schemes with over 80 per cent of SMSFs registered with the support of a professional.

“Tax and super professionals play a key role in helping address illegal early access to super,” the ATO said.

“Your professional status in the community means people pay attention to your perspective so take the opportunity to bust myths and help people understand when they can legitimately access their retirement savings from an SMSF.”

Where the registration of an SMSF doesn’t look or feel right for a client, the ATO said practitioners should ask them if they really understand what they’re getting into.

“You should [also] ask them if they know when they can legitimately access their super and are aware or the financial costs associated with doing something illegal,” the ATO said.

“Non-lodgement and financial difficulties are also warning signals that your clients might be facing difficulties. If you see clients in this situation, reach out and remind them of their obligations and the rules.”

The ATO said professionals can use their insights into specific client's circumstances and help resolve any issues early, as well as making good use of the ATO’s voluntary disclosure service and lodgement deferral services.

“We also have our Illegal early access to super fact sheet which provides useful information about when a member can legally access their super, the consequences, and warns against the dangers of promoters,” the ATO said.

“It is a good starting point for a conversation with your clients.”

The ATO is also encouraging practitioners to report any promoters of illegal access of super schemes through its tip off form.

This latest update follows recent figures released by the ATO which indicated that a total $380 million was illegally accessed from SMSFs in 2020 and $255 million in 2021.

ATO deputy commissioner Emma Rosenzweig said the ATO’s preventative measures had helped to reduce the amount illegally leaving the system with the ATO preventing $126 million leaving the system in 2019-20, and $168 million in 2020-21.

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Miranda Brownlee

Miranda Brownlee


Miranda Brownlee is the deputy editor of SMSF Adviser, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the SMSF sector.

Since joining the team in 2014, Miranda has been responsible for breaking some of the biggest superannuation stories in Australia, and has reported extensively on technical strategy and legislative updates.
Miranda also has broad business and financial services reporting experience, having written for titles including Investor Daily, ifa and Accountants Daily.

You can email Miranda
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