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Seeking approval of education courses

Information for providers to approve their education course to complying with an ATO education direction.

Last updated 23 June 2015

We approve courses of education for the purpose of complying with an education direction. You may apply to us to have a course included as an approved course of education.

Applications should be sent to

A link to the course, along with a copy of the course content in a Word document, must be included in the email.

An approved course of education should satisfy the following conditions.

General conditions

The ATO will not be liable for any cost incurred by the provider as part of developing, designing and maintaining the course.

The course will be:

  • provided online
  • reviewed by the ATO on an annual basis or as required
  • at a level the ATO considers appropriate
  • provided free of charge to trustees.

Course requirements

Content will be based on the Trustee declaration and provide general awareness of a trustee’s obligations. This includes information about the:

  • trustee’s role and responsibilities within an SMSF
  • sole purpose test
  • investment restrictions imposed on trustees including  
    • acquisitions
    • investments
    • borrowings
    • loans
    • arm’s-length dealings
  • rules and limitations surrounding contributions and benefit payments
  • administration involved in running an SMSF including
    • record keeping
    • separation of assets
    • changes to fund membership and contacts
    • lodgment and SMSF auditor requirements
    • winding up a fund.

The course:

  • should be split into sections with a quiz at the end of each section – participants must complete the quiz before proceeding to the next section
  • duration should be of a suitable length to ensure that all the required content can be sufficiently covered
  • must be up to date and technically correct at all times
  • should refer to or provide links to information on our website
  • must provide a certificate that can be printed that confirms the participant’s successful completion of the course.

IT requirements

  • The online course should be compatible with programs designed to assist users with disabilities – for example, JAWS and Dragon.
  • A certificate must be produced at completion that contains the following information  
    • trustee’s name
    • date course was completed.

Statistics on the number of participants that have accessed and completed the course should be made available to us.

No marketing or advertising emails should be sent to course participants who have been directed by us to undertake education, unless the participant allows the provider to use their details to send such emails.