SMSF auditors have been put on notice after the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) found several tax practitioners falsifying self-managed superannuation fund annual returns. Seventy-four tax practitioners have been identified after lodging 2017 and 2018 SMSF annual returns with an incorrect or fraudulently recorded SMSF Auditor Number (SAN). The review comes after the Australian Taxation Office found that 74 practitioners representing 106 funds have lodged annual returns for the 2017 financial year with an incorrect SAN and failed to satisfactorily respond to ATO inquiries. Last year the tax office started a campaign to identify SAN misuse by sending SMSF auditors lists of SMSFs who had reported them as their auditor for the 2017 and 2018 income years and asked the auditors to confirm they had conducted the audit. The ATO received 2739 responses which is a response rate of just 50 per cent. Of this, 420 auditors confirmed 1445 instances of SAN misuse connected to 1685 funds and 626 tax agents. Auditors need to be vigilant and check that all the details are correct. The tax office says a lot of the funds that misreported the SAN did so inadvertently. “A lot of these were a result of SAR software rolling over a previous auditor’s details and the tax agent lodging the return not checking to ensure the correct current-year auditor was reported,” the ATO says. Despite this, a staggering 154 funds were identified as deliberately misreported an auditor’s SAN. In the 2019–20 year to date, the TPB has completed just four investigations on agents deliberately misreporting SANs on annual reviews. Two of the agents had misreported the SAN on the return for their own fund and two had misreported SANs on returns over more than one year. TPG chair Ian Klug says: “Misconduct or failure to adequately respond to the TPB’s inquiries is a breach of the Code of Professional Conduct and may result in imposition of sanctions including suspension or termination of registration.” Sanctions include an order to complete certain TPB approved training courses snd conditions on registration which prevent the tax agent from providing tax agent services or supervising tax agent services related to SMSFs. In serious cases of deliberate SAN misuse where agents have retained audit fees without arranging an SMSF audit or forging auditors’ signatures, the TBP has referred them for criminal prosecution. All SMSF auditors will get another opportunity to review the list of funds that reported their SAN on the 2019 SARs when we do our next mail out scheduled for August.
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