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Record keeping requirements

Last updated 28 July 2020

Generally, a superannuation fund must keep all relevant records for five years after they were prepared or obtained, or five years after the completion of the transactions or acts to which they relate, whichever is the later. However, this period may be extended in certain circumstances.

Keep records in writing and in English. You can keep them electronically, as long as the records are in a form that we can access and understand to ascertain the fund's tax liability.

For more information, see Taxation Ruling TR 96/7 Income tax: record keeping - section 262-A - general principles and Taxation Ruling TR 2005/9 Income tax: record keeping - electronic records.

You are not expected to duplicate records. If the records that the superannuation fund normally keeps contain the information specified in the instructions, you do not need to prepare additional records.

For some items on the applicable tax return, these instructions spell out specific record-keeping requirements. In general, these records cover instances where the necessary information may not be available in the normal fund accounts.

The record-keeping requirements within the instructions indicate the information that the superannuation fund uses to calculate the correct amounts to declare on the applicable tax return. However, this information is not an exhaustive list of the records that a superannuation fund maintains.

Prepare and keep these documents:

  • a statement of financial position
  • a detailed operating statement
  • a statement of cash flow (reporting entities only)
  • notices and elections
  • documents containing particulars of any estimate, determination or calculation made while preparing the applicable tax return, together with details of the basis and method used in arriving at the amounts on the applicable tax return
  • a statement describing and listing the accounting systems and records - for example, a chart of accounts that are kept manually and electronically.

If we conduct an audit, we may ask for the following information, and we expect you to make the information readily available:

  • a list and description of the main financial products (for example, bank overdrafts, bills, futures and swaps) that were used by the fund to finance or manage its activities during the income year
  • for funds that have entered into transactions with associated entities overseas:
    • an organisational chart of the group structure, and
    • all documents, including worksheets, that explain the nature and terms of the transactions entered into.

The superannuation fund will be liable to pay penalties and interest, in addition to the shortfall amount if it does not state the correct amount of taxable income and tax payable on that income, or over claims a credit entitlement on the applicable tax return. The law also imposes a penalty where a superannuation fund fails to keep records in the required manner or it fails to retain records for the appropriate period.