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  • Record-keeping requirements

    One of your responsibilities as a trustee is to ensure proper and accurate tax and super records are kept.

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    Media: Record keeping in your SMSF Link (Duration: 2:22)

    Take minutes of all investment decisions

    You should take minutes of all investment decisions, including:

    • why a particular investment was chosen
    • whether all trustees agreed with the decision.

    If, as one of the fund’s trustees, you invest the self-managed super fund's (SMSF) money in an investment that fails, the other trustees could take action against you for failing to be diligent in your duties. However, if your investment decision was recorded in meeting minutes that were signed by the other trustees, you will have a record to show that the other trustees agreed with your actions.

    You need to make certain records available to your fund’s SMSF auditor when they audit your fund each year. You may also need to provide accurate records to us if we ask to see them.

    Signature requirements for financial statements

    Under the super laws, SMSF trustees are required to sign their SMSF’s financial statements before finalising their fund’s audit each income year.

    Accounts and statements (an operating statement and a statement of financial position) must be signed by the required number of trustees or directors of the corporate trustee, as set out in the tables below.

    For the 2020–21 and earlier financial years

    Structure of the fund

    Signature requirements

    Corporate trustee – single director

    That director

    Corporate trustee – multiple directors

    At least two of the directors

    Individual trustees

    At least two of the trustees

    For the 2021–22 and later financial years

    Structure of fund – number of directors or trustees

    Signature requirements

    Corporate trustee – one or two directors

    All directors

    Corporate trustee – three or more directors

    At least half of the directors

    Individual trustees – two trustees

    All trustees

    Individual trustees – three or more trustees

    At least half of the trustees

    Relief under COVID-19

    COVID-19 impacts such as social distancing or isolation requirements or your tax agent or accountant working from a home office may prevent you from signing your SMSF's financial statements in person. If you are unable to sign the fund's financial statements in person, alternative options available for signing the financial statements are:

    • returning a signed scanned copy to your tax agent or accountant by email or using an electronic signature such as a digital signature. Digital signatures should be provided    
      • using a secure system, typically through an established third-party provider
      • in a way that clearly identifies the trustee signing and indicates the approval you are providing 
    • having your agent or accountant post the financial statements to you which you will need to sign and return to your agent by post.

    Note: You will not meet the signature requirement if you only acknowledge the financial statements by email or over the phone.

    Minimum record keeping requirements

    You need to keep the following records for a minimum of five years:

    • accurate and accessible accounting records that explain the transactions and financial position of your SMSF
    • documentation showing decisions made about what benefit payment type was paid (pension, lump sum or a combination of both) and the account the payment was paid from
    • an annual operating statement and an annual statement of your SMSF’s financial position
    • copies of all SMSF annual returns lodged. For more information see self-managed superannuation fund annual return instructions
    • copies of transfer balance account reports lodged
    • copies of any other statements you are required to lodge with us or provide to other super funds.

    You need to keep the following records for a minimum of 10 years:

    • minutes of trustee meetings and decisions (if matters affecting your fund were discussed, for example you reviewed the fund's investment strategy, or the commencement or commutation - in part or in full - of an income stream)
    • records of all changes of trustees
    • trustee declarations recognising the obligations and responsibilities for any trustee, or director of a corporate trustee, appointed after 30 June 2007
    • members’ written consent to be appointed as trustees
    • copies of all reports given to members
    • documented decisions about storage of collectables and personal use assets.

    Don't forget that income tax record-keeping requirements also need your attention – especially documents on deductions, capital gains and losses.

    Keep records in writing and in English. If you keep electronic records, they must be capable of verification by us and be in a form we can access and understand.

    For more information see event-based reporting for SMSFs.

    Early access to superannuation

    SMSF members are eligible for early access to superannuation in very limited circumstances. If you are a trustee of an SMSF, you must:

    • ensure the member applying for early access of their super meets all the requirements for the particular condition of release applied for
    • keep records and proof that the member met all requirements of the condition of release. This will be needed for your auditor to ensure the member did not illegally access their superannuation
    • seek permission from the other trustees and note this in the trustee meeting minutes.

    If a fund member does not meet all the requirements of a condition of release, they can be subject to heavy penalties for illegally accessing their superannuation.

    Last modified: 13 Dec 2021QC 23333