ATO Interviewing SMSF Trustees

Peter Cramer

Our many Self managed Superannuation Trustees might be interested to know that the ATO is randomly conducting phone interviews with SMSF Trustees asking them about their new SMSF.

In some cases, the ATO selects SMSF trustees for “interview” by telephone before the ATO decides whether to allow the set-up of a SMSF to proceed.

Per the ATO’s letter: “This is so that the ATO can interview you about your role as trustee to ensure that you can demonstrate the knowledge and understanding required of a person acting in the role of an SMSF trustee”.

At GTP I am not aware of any clients being “interviewed” but you might be interested in the types of  questions the ATO ask in the telephone “interview”: refer to the following:

  • When did you set up your superfund?
  • Who is your superfund trustee?
  • Who are the directors (of the corporate trustee)?
  • Why did you set up the superfund?
  • Who set up the SMSF for you? What exactly did they do for you? How much did they charge?
  • What is the purpose of a SMSF?
  • What is the purpose of the SMSF trust deed?
  • Did you set up a bank account? What name is the account in? Which bank? Who are the signatories on the account?
  • How to you plan to contribute to the SMSF?
  • What documents have you signed so far?
  • What are your annual obligations?
  • Did someone tell you that you can access the money in the SMSF for personal purposes?
  • When can you access the money in your SMSF?
  • How does the ATO deal with non-compliance?
  • What investments do you plan to make with your SMSF?

The ATO also requires copies of the trust deed, minutes of meeting(s), investment strategy, signed trustee declarations and evidence from the bank to prove the bank account had been set up.

Until the trustees have passed the “interview” and provided the above documents, the ATO withholds registration of the SMSF. This means you can’t apply for rollovers or make contributions. Also per the ATO letter: If the trustees have any personal or business ATO obligations outstanding, the SMSF registration is withheld until those outstanding items have been taken care of.

This highlights the importance of setting up a SMSF for the right reasons and doing it properly.  This is designed in part to catch a troubling number of rogues who illegally promote the set up of SMSF’s for invalid and illegal reasons (eg to extract out super money before legally able to do so, or shonky property spruikers who have been known to trick people into using their super to buy properties at inflated prices).

Should you ever receive contact from the ATO (or someone purporting to be from the ATO) always tell them you will only talk to them after your accountant has verified their authenticity – ie always have them contact us first!  You have the right to run any tax matters past us first.  Then we can assist you!

If you are unsure of any of the answers to the questions above – we will be only too happy to go over them again with you!

(Thanks to SMSF Association Advisor Group discussion for the basis of this Blog).