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  • SMSF management

    Trustee structure

    SMSFs can be established with either a corporate trustee (if all members of the SMSF are directors of the corporate trustee) or with individual trustees (if all members of the SMSF are trustees).

    At 30 June 2017, 57% of all SMSFs had a corporate trustee, rather than individual trustees (see appendix 1, table 6).

    Of newly registered SMSFs in 2017, most have a corporate trustee (81%); this was the same in 2016, after a slight increase (of 0.8%) from 2015..12

    In this year's publication for 2017, we have used a more reliable data set to determine the SMSF trustee structure. An issue was identified with previously used data and has been rectified in this report, resulting in significant changes to previous trustee structure data.

    For revised figures of the tables published in prior years, see supplementary table 6.1, Appendix 1 Data tables (XLXS 104KB)This link will download a file.

    SMSF payment phase

    For the year ended 30 June 2016, 53% of SMSFs reported they were solely in the accumulation phase. The remaining 47% reported were in pension phase either partially, by making pension payments to some members or fully, by making pension payments to all members. Of these, 11% were in partial pension phase (making payments to some members), while 36% were in full pension phase (making payments to all members) – see appendix 1, table 7.

    Over the five years to 2016, there was a shift of 4% of SMSFs moving into the pension phase. Most of this shift was to the full pension phase (4%), while the proportion of SMSFs in the partial pension phase remained consistent.

    Over the period, an average of 20,000 SMSFs each year started making pension payments to their members for the first time and on average 2,500 were in their first year of operation. In 2016 there was a decrease in funds that started to make pension payments for the first time, dropping to 15,200 or a 22% decrease from funds in the prior year..13

    Of SMSFs that started pension payments in 2016, approximately 54% were over five years old; 24% were under two years old (of which 11% were in their first year of operation); and 22% between two and five years. This distribution is consistent with SMSFs that started pension payments over the five years to 2016..14

    Of funds established in the 10 years to 2016, 70% have not started making pension payments.

    Service providers

    All SMSFs must have their financial accounts and compliance with the SIS Act audited annually by an SMSF auditor.15. SMSF auditors play a key role in ensuring SMSF compliance with regulatory obligations.

    For the year ended 30 June 2016, approximately 5,800 SMSF auditors conducted, on average, 74 SMSF audits each..16 Over the five years to 2016, the number of audits conducting audits for each year has decreased (see appendix 1, table 8.

    In 2016, most SMSF auditors performed between five and 50 SMSF audits (53%) and between 51 and 250 SMSF audits (27%).

    There were 5% of SMSF auditors conducting more than 250 SMSF audits. These SMSF auditors performed 45% of total SMSF audits in 2016, an increase from 34% of audits in 2012.

    In 2016, the proportion of SMSF auditors performing less than five audits increased slightly to 15% from 2015. Less than 1% of total SMSF audits were performed by these SMSF auditors (see appendix 1, table 8).

    Tax agents and accountants also play a significant role in the SMSF sector. Approximately 13,400 tax agents or accountants lodged 99% of 2016 SMSF annual returns..17 They had, on average, 32 SMSF clients and a median number of 10 SMSF clients.

    Half of the tax agents lodge for 10 or less SMSFs, while 15% (or 2,015) had a single SMSF client. By contrast, 7% or 902 tax agents and accountants lodged a 2016 SAR for more than 100 SMSFs (see appendix 1, table 9).

    Over the five years to 2016, there was a 6% decrease in the number of tax agents or accountants that lodged SMSF annual returns. This was attributed to a decrease in the number of tax agents or accountants that lodged SMSF returns for 2016 (by 900).

    12 Based on registrations and ABR data.
    13 Based on SMSF income tax and annual regulatory return lodged data over 10 years.
    14 Based on 2016 SAR lodged data and ABR data.
    15 From 1 July 2013, only SMSF auditors registered with ASIC can undertake SMSF audits.
    16 Based on 2016 SAR lodged data.
    17 Based on 2016 SAR lodged data.

      Last modified: 18 Jan 2018QC 54393