Unexpected SMSF Registration Problem

31 Jan 2024

Written by

David Busoli, Principal

When registering a new SMSF with the ATO there is always a chance that the ATO will contact the trustees before completing the fund registration. We are finding that this action is becoming more common and is resulting in an unexpected issue.

The trustees, wary of phone scams, are not always answering the unknown number that is trying to call them. Also, as the ATO use contact details held on MyGov, the attempt at contact will fail if the details are not current.

The ATO attempt to contact each trustee three times, over a week, and leave a voice message and text message where possible. These messages require a response within 21 days of the first attempt. They reference the fund name and invite the trustee to phone back or to check the ATO’s contact numbers online so that they can be sure that this is not a scam. If there has been no contact within the 21 days, the ATO send a letter advising that the fund has been withdrawn from the registration process and from Super Fund Lookup. The trustees then have 60 days to lodge an objection with the ATO or the matter will be closed.

Advisers should ensure that trustees are aware of these issues before submitting a new fund application. It would also be useful if trustees are aware of what they may be asked when contact is successful. They are expected to be familiar with the practical contents of the ATO Trustee Declaration that they have signed.

Typical questions are relatively straight forward:

  • Who are the trustees?
  • What do you intend to do with the fund? (Interested in early release or personal use intentions)
  • How large will the fund be after rollovers?
  • Did you get advice and, if so, from whom and what did they charge?
  • What are your annual obligations?
  • Do you understand the penalties that could apply if you do the wrong thing?

Advisers who ensure their new trustees understand these matters can avoid significant disruption to the registration process.

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