The ATO will soon be writing to investors with self-managed super funds (SMSFs) who have persistently missed their annual lodgement requirements.
Often, the reasons for this aren’t sinister. Taxpayers may simply not realise they have to continue to lodge when they are in pension phase, or they might be struggling with a major life event, like the death of a spouse.
However, the ATO is concerned that non-lodgement in some cases signals that taxpayers are using their funds for illegal purposes, and they don’t want the regulators to cotton on.
The breaches that consistently top the list include loans to members, where a fund loans money to its members, which is not allowed under superannuation law.
Also topping the list are investors not keeping their SMSF assets separate from their personal assets.
Some SMSF investors also continue to invest in related party assets. This, for example, would involve an SMSF holding shares in a company which is owned by one of its members.
The consequences for investors who are caught out doing the wrong thing includes administrative penalties, or in serious cases, possibly being disqualified from running a fund.
Serious, ongoing contraventions and disregard for superannuation law can result in a fund being wound up, which would mean tax penalties of 45 per cent.
The ATO has always been focused on compliance in the SMSF sector, but its approach in 2019 is bolstered by unprecedented data matching capabilities and access to third-party data. In short: if the tax office wants to capture you, chances are, they will.