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ATO ramps up compliance activity

Last updated 30 August 2023

One of our main roles as the regulator of SMSFs is to assist trustees in complying with their obligations under the super laws and where they don't, we take appropriate compliance action.

An important obligation a trustee has is to preserve their superannuation benefits until they meet a condition of release. They also need to ensure they get their fund audited and lodge the annual return each year.

During the 2023 income year we identified an increasing number of funds who did not comply with these obligations which resulted in us imposing a higher number of sanctions as compared to previous years.

Actions we took during the 2023 income year included:

  • issuing an additional $29 million in income tax liabilities, administrative and tax shortfall penalties, and interest on SMSF trustees and/or members.
  • disqualifying a total of 753 trustees who have now been added to our public register.

As compared to the 2022 income year, these compliance actions resulted in double the amount of tax and penalties being imposed and more than triple the amount of disqualifications.

By far the most common reason for applying these sanctions was to deal with SMSF members identified as having illegally accessed their superannuation benefits before meeting a condition of release.

Throughout the 2024 income year we will continue to take firm action against trustees who persistently fail to comply with their obligations and seriously breach the superannuation laws.

If you are a trustee who has breached the superannuation laws, we recommend you rectify the contravention as soon as possible. Otherwise, you are putting your retirement savings and fund's complying status at risk.

You should also consider using our SMSF early engagement and voluntary disclosure service. If you voluntarily disclose contraventions before we commence an audit, we will take this into account when deciding what actions we need to take.

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