ato logo
Search Suggestion:

Independence standards for tax professionals with SMSF clients

Information for tax professionals with self-managed super fund (SMSF) clients on changes to the independence standards.

Last updated 24 March 2021

Recent changes to the independence standards may change the way tax professionals and approved self-managed super fund (SMSF) auditors represent their clients. This may affect your practices and businesses.

A new and updated Independence Guide – Fifth Edition, May 2020 (the Guide) was recently published by The Accounting Professional & Ethical Standards Board (APESB), in collaboration with the three professional accounting bodies – Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ), CPA Australia and the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA).

The Guide incorporates changes to the restructured APES 110 Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (including Independence Standards) (the restructured Code). This became effective 1 January 2020 and is mandatory for audits and reviews in Australia.

This page provides guidance on the changes to the independence requirements under the Code. It is essential information for SMSF auditors and tax professionals. Review these changes to understand how they affect your practice and business and how you represent your clients.

See also:

Who the independence requirements apply to

The independence requirements in the Code apply to SMSF auditors including those who are also tax professionals.

This also applies to tax professionals who service SMSF clients by providing a combination of audit and non-assurance services such as:

  • accounting and bookkeeping services, for example, the preparation of financial statements and accounting records (including the coding of transactions)
  • completion and lodgment of fund activity statements and SMSF annual returns (SARs)
  • advice in relation to a fund's compliance with the super laws
  • tax and financial planning advice.

The Code and the Guide make it clear that tax professionals who provide both non-assurance and auditing services in-house will now need to review their arrangements to ensure they are complying with the Code. You may need to change how you service your SMSF clients and the combination of work you undertake for them.

Review your services for SMSF clients

If your practice or business provides SMSF services to clients, you will need to consider your current arrangements, and how the changes to independence standards may affect you.

You will need to:

  • review the type of SMSF services you provide and the arrangements in place for providing those services
  • assess the impact of the changes on your practice, including individual arrangements in place with SMSF clients
  • start planning as soon as possible for any changes that may be required to your business and or practice models, staffing and outsourcing agreements
  • communicate any changes to your SMSF clients.

To support tax professionals through any changes that may be required to their businesses or practices we will not enforce compliance until 1 July 2021.

Key areas for review

If your business or practice has been providing both auditing and non-assurance services, you can use our guidance on SMSF auditor independence to help you understand whether you are meeting the requirements under the Code.

Our guidance outlines key areas which may require your review, such as:

  • audit pooling arrangements
  • outsourcing arrangements
  • reciprocal auditing arrangements.

You will need to make sure you comply with the Code by 1 July 2021. If we find approved SMSF auditors aren't complying with the Code after this date they may be referred to the Australian Securities Investments Commission.

We will continue to update you as we approach the compliance date. To receive the latest information, we encourage you to subscribe to our: