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Breaching The Complex Laws That Surround SMSFs Could Land You In Hot Water

There is a proverb that says that it is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission.

Generally speaking, the idea behind this saying is that if you ask for permission and you do not receive it, then the punishment will be a lot harsher than if you do the thing that you asked to do and get caught afterwards.

For example, if your children were to ask you if they could go to the local pool, and you deny them that request, the chances are that they would be in more trouble than if they simply circumvented you, and went anyway. It may also be said that you may never get caught doing the wrong thing, but asking for permission to do the act could have someone keeping watch over you.

The same cannot be said for Self Managed Superannuation Funds.

It is never a good idea to break the rules and then ask for forgiveness in that instance (or at least not intentionally). SMSF laws are complex. Breaking the rules could be thought of as being quite easy, but is not an excuse.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) makes each and every person appointed as a trustee sign a declaration that they are aware of the rules and enforce that that declaration must be witnessed.

Then, after signing a declaration that you are aware and know the rules, they also force you to appoint an independent auditor to thoroughly check everything you have done and to make sure that you have not breached any of the rules.

If they find out that you have breached the rules then that auditor must then report the breach to the Tax Office.

Once it has been reported, this breach must be addressed as quickly as possible. It is even better if you rectify the breach before the auditor reports the breach. Your attitude towards rectifying the breach has a lot of impact on the action that the Tax Office will take against you as a trustee.

Where you can show that this was an inadvertent breach and you fixed it immediately upon realising you made the breach then most likely you will not receive any type of punishment.

Conversely, where the breach was made knowingly and you show hesitancy in rectifying it you should expect to feel the full wrath of the regulator. The ATO does not take lightly to a person not administering their super to the letter of the law.

What Punishments Can The ATO Give You?

There are a number of sticks the ATO has to punish wayward SMSF trustees. The most common punishment used is a direction to do something. For example, you might have acquired an asset off a member that was against the rules. In this case, the ATO would direct you to sell that asset back to the members.

Further on the next level of punishment would be education directives. The ATO has the authority to force you to do some formal SMSF Trustee training. There are a number of providers of these training courses.

That is the extent of the punishments that do not incur monetary penalties. However, the next level of punishment is significant fines for each individual trustee or director of the corporate trustee. These fines can be up to $10,000 per person.

The biggest punishment that can occur is to classify the SMSF as “non-complying,” where the cost of this will be 47% of the accumulated taxable component of the whole fund.

Essentially, that’s half of your super taken from you.

That’s why we always recommend complying with the rules. When you are unsure of the rules, then you should seek further clarification from an expert (and keep off of the ATO’s naughty list while you’re at it).

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Changes To Employers & Super When Stapled Funds Come Into Effect 1 November 2021

Posted on September 20, 2021 by admin

This year has seen a lot of amendments and changes to the rules governing superannuation funds and their providers by the Federal Government that may have an impact on how you as an employer deal with super.

Are you aware of the changes to “choice of fund” rules that you might need to be aware of as an employer of new to the workforce employees?

Currently, as an employer, you may be paying contributions to your new employees into a  default superannuation fund of your choice if they have failed to provide you with their own choice of superannuation fund details. This may be due to not having a superannuation fund (as in, the employee is new to the workforce), or as a result of other circumstances.

As an employer, you must provide all new employees with a Superannuation standard choice form within 28 days of their start date. They may also be provided with one if:

If the employee holds a temporary working visa or their super fund undergoes a merger or acquisition, they will not be able to choose their super fund themselves.

From 1 November 2021, if you have new employees start and they don’t choose a specific super fund, you may need to request their ‘stapled super fund’ details from the Australian Taxation Office.

A stapled super fund is an existing account that is linked, or ‘stapled’ to an individual employee, so it follows them as they change jobs. This change aims to reduce the number of additional super accounts opened each time they start a new job. If a new employee does not have a stapled fund and they do not choose a fund, the employee’s super can be paid into the employer’s default fund.

With fewer superannuation funds being opened, employees are less likely to generate ‘lost super’ as they transition through their employment periods and various careers leading up to their retirement.

As an employer, you’ll be able to request stapled super fund details for new employees using the ATO’s Online services for business.

To get ready for this change, you can check and update the access levels of your business’ authorised representatives (such as your accountant or bookkeeper) in Online services. This will mean you’re ready to request stapled super funds if needed. It will also assist in protecting your employees’ personal information.

As an employer, you legally cannot provide your employees with recommendations or advice about super unless you are licensed by ASIC to provide financial advice. You can give your employees information about choosing a fund however, including:

Remember, registered tax agents and BAS agents like us can help you with your tax and super queries. Come and speak with us about your options, and to ensure that you are compliant with your super requirements as an employer.

If you are a new employee entering into the workforce, and you’d like to know more about your options when it comes to superannuation, you should have a serious discussion with providers and conduct your own independent research on the funds available.

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