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  • Lodge SMSF annual returns

    You need to lodge an annual return once the audit of your SMSF has been finalised. The SMSF annual return (SAR) is more than an income tax return. It is also used to report super regulatory information, member contributions and pay the SMSF supervisory levy.

    On this page:

    Benefits of including your ABN

    When lodging your SAR we encourage you to report your Australian business number (ABN) on your SAR as it allows our systems to match your members correctly. This ensures the account details for the SMSF are displayed for the member when they access ATO online services.

    Your member is then able to choose their SMSF account if they are completing the following forms online for:

    • compassionate release of super
    • early release of super
    • excess concessional contribution election
    • excess non-concessional contribution election
    • Division 293 election

    It also means that the member’s SMSF account details are visible on Online services for agents if your member uses a registered tax agent.

    If your fund did not have assets in the first year it was registered, you may not need to lodge a return for that year.

    How to lodge

    You can lodge your return electronically through Standard Business Reporting (SBR)External Link. You'll need:

    You can lodge a paper annual return by downloading the SMSF annual return and SMSF annual return instructions for the relevant year.

    Complete the return and post it to:

    Australian Taxation Office
    GPO Box 9845
    [insert the name and postcode of your capital city]

    For example

    Australian Taxation Office
    GPO Box 9845
    SYDNEY NSW 2001

    Note: As SMSFs assess their own tax debt or refund, a notice of assessment is not issued.

    When to lodge

    If you lodge your SAR yourself, the due date is:

    • generally 28 February following the financial year
    • 31 October if you didn't lodge your return for the previous financial year on time
    • 31 October for your first year.

    If your return is lodged through a tax agent, they'll tell you the due date. For your first year the due date will be 28 February.

    If your SMSF is reviewed by us at registration, your first year return due date will be 31 October even if it is prepared and lodged by a tax agent. We will notify you if this is the case.

    If a due date falls on a weekend or public holiday you can lodge or pay on the next business day.

    Before you lodge your SAR, you must ensure that:

    • your SMSF's audit has been finalised
    • the SAR contains the correct auditor details.

    Otherwise you may be penalised.

    Failure to lodge your SAR by the due date can result in penalties and the loss of your SMSF’s tax concessions.

    See also:

    Funds without assets

    An SMSF is not legally established until the fund has assets set aside for the benefit of members. Our systems will not accept an annual return for an SMSF that has no assets or no closing member account balances, unless the return is for the year in which the fund is wound up.

    If an SMSF does not have assets set aside for the benefit of members in the first year it was registered, you can ask us to either:

    • cancel the fund's registration
    • flag the SMSF's record as return not necessary (RNN) if the SMSF confirms in writing        
      • that although registered, it had no assets and did not receive contributions or rollovers in the first financial year
      • that it has documentary evidence of the date the SMSF first held assets and commenced operating (for example the SMSF's first bank statement)
      • that it will be lodging future returns.

    If you're a trustee your written request must include:

    • the SMSF's name, TFN or ABN
    • confirmation that it meets all eligibility conditions
    • documentary evidence of the date assets were first placed into the fund.

    This request can be sent to us at:

    Australian Taxation Office
    GPO Box 9990
    [insert the name and postcode of your capital city]

    For example

    Australian Taxation Office
    GPO Box 9990
    SYDNEY NSW 2001

    If you're a tax agent you'll need to use the Online services for agents mail option, select Superannuation as the topic, and choose from the following mail subjects:      

    • SMSF cancellation of registration – where a fund has not legally established
    • SMSF new registrant – Return Not Necessary request.

    For RNN requests your submission must include:

    • the SMSF's name, TFN or ABN
    • confirmation that it meets all eligibility conditions
    • documentary evidence of the date assets were first placed into the fund.

    An RNN is generally only allowed for a newly-registered SMSF in its first year of registration.

    RNNs for subsequent years will only be granted in limited circumstances and where the fund provides documentary evidence of the date assets were first held by the fund, for example the SMSF's first bank statement.

    When an SMSF that has previously advised a return was not necessary is legally established and needs to lodge a return for the first time, the due date of the first return lodged by a tax agent will be 28 February.

    Amend your SMSF annual return

    To amend your SAR you need to resubmit the whole return. Make sure you answer 'yes' in section A at question 5, Is this an amendment to the SMSF's annual return?

    Because information on the SAR is inter-related, changing one label on the form is likely to require changes to other labels too. So we need you to always complete the form in full, not just the parts you want to amend, and provide contributions information for all members, not just the member whose contributions you may need to change.

    Failure to lodge

    If you fail to lodge your SAR on time and you're more than two weeks overdue, you risk the compliance status of your SMSF on Super Fund LookupExternal Link being changed to 'regulation details removed'.

    If your status is 'regulation details removed' and you then lodge, your status will be updated to 'complying' on the first business day of the following month and made available on the following day.

    In addition to changing the regulation details on Super Fund Lookup, you risk receiving failure to lodge penalties.

    Supervisory levy

    You need to pay the supervisory levy with your SAR. The amount payable is stated on the return.

    From 1 July 2013 – the levy is payable for the financial year in which the annual return is due. For example, when you lodge your 2014–15 annual return you pay the levy for the 2015–16 financial year.

    Up to 1 July 2013 – the SMSF supervisory levy was payable for the financial year to which the SAR related.

    From 2013–14 – the annual SMSF levy is $259.

    To bring collections forward, transitional provisions apply to the levy for the 2013–14 financial year so that it is payable in two instalments which are collected upon lodgment of the 2013 and 2014 annual returns.

    Label M on the annual return will enable funds that have wound up during a financial year to adjust the levy so they don't pay the levy for the following year.

    New funds will also have an adjustment Label N on the annual return to add the levy relating to the year of establishment to the amount payable.

    Last modified: 16 Feb 2021QC 23331