SMSF ABN Registration: The ATO May Contact You

The ATO registers over 20,000 new SMSFs every year, and a small number are selected for a more detailed review of their application.

These reviews happen after a new SMSF has submitted its application to become registered and can happen both before and after the new SMSF is issued with its ABN.

In most cases, the ATO completes their review without contacting the SMSF trustees. However, sometimes the ATO will phone the trustees and ask them about their new SMSF to obtain additional information before they approve the SMSFs registration.

Without the ATO approval (i.e. ABN status being updated to ‘Registered’ or ‘Complying’), an SMSF cannot receive transfers from other superannuation funds or receive contributions from employers.

Below are a number of questions the ATO may ask new SMSF trustees if they get in touch.

Questions the ATO may ask

The following are common questions (and example answers) the ATO may ask you about your SMSF.  The majority of these questions are based on information contained in the ATO Trustee Declaration that you signed when you set up your SMSF.

The list of questions below is comprehensive, however, it is unlikely the ATO will ask all of them.  Their questions will be customised to your situation and the details of your SMSF application. 

When did you set up your SMSF?

  • Provide the date you signed your SMSF trust deed and associated documents

Who is your SMSF trustee?

  • Provide the name of the trustee company of your SMSF or the names of the members if you’re using individual trustees

Who are the directors of the trustee company?

  • Provide your name(s) – i.e. all members of the SMSF will also be directors of the company trustee

Who set up the SMSF for you?

  • StakeSMSF
  • Grow SMSF is the tax agent 

What exactly did they do for you?

  • I/we requested StakeSMSF set up the SMSF on our behalf. They set up the trustee company, organised the trust deed and all associated documents and submitted the ABN application

What is the purpose of an SMSF?

  • An SMSF is for the sole purpose of providing retirement benefits for the members (or dependents if the members die before retirement)

What is the purpose of the SMSF trust deed?

  • It contains all the rules of the SMSF that trustees and members have to follow – i.e. the procedures that have to be followed

Did you set up a bank account? What name? Which bank? Who are the signatories?

  • An application to set up an account has been submitted with (bank name: e.g. Macquarie). This account will be linked to our Stake trading account
  • The account is in the name of the SMSF
  • We are the only authorised signatories on the account

How much will the rollovers be from your existing super funds?

  • Provide details of the amounts
  • If the total amount being transferred is comparatively low (i.e. less than $100,000) you may be asked to provide more information on why you’re starting an SMSF
  • The ATO does not specify a minimum amount but they want to ensure you’re setting up an SMSF for legitimate reasons and not for illegal early access

What do you plan to do with the rollover monies?

  • Implement the investment strategy of the fund

How do you plan to contribute to the SMSF?

  • Employers will make contributions 
  • Mention the possibility of making additional personal contributions if applicable

What documents have you signed so far?

  • Resolution to set up the trustee company;
  • SMSF trust deed;
  • Member applications;
  • Consent to act as directors of trustee company;
  • ATO Trustee Declarations
  • Auditor Appointment Minute (ASF Audits – one of the largest independent SMSF auditors in the country!)
  • Initial Investment Strategy

What are your annual obligations?

  • Have the annual accounts completed
  • Have the accounts audited 
  • Lodge an SMSF tax return
  • Review our investment strategy (although probably will do more often as actively managing the investments)

What are the annual SMSF fees for accounting, audit, and the ATO levy?

  • StakeSMSF is charging a low annual fee which includes the independent audit
  • We also know we have to pay the ATO levy of $259 as well as the $56 ASIC fee for the company

When does your SMSF need to lodge its annual tax return?

  • 28th February after the first year
  • 15th of May after the second and subsequent years

Did someone tell you that you can access the money in the SMSF for personal purposes?

  • No.  I/we understand that this is not possible.

When can you access the money in your SMSF?

  • Preservation age is 60, but we have to be retired, otherwise when only can access at age 65

How does the ATO deal with non-compliance?

  • As per the trustee declaration:
    • impose administrative penalties on me
    • give me a written direction to rectify any contraventions or undertake a course of education
    • enter into agreements with me to rectify any contraventions of the legislation
    •  disqualify me from being a trustee or director of a corporate trustee of any superannuation fund in the future
    • remove the fund’s complying status, which may result in significant adverse tax consequences for the fund
    • prosecute me under the law, which may result in fines or imprisonment (although no one has ever been sent to prison!)

What investments do you plan to make with your SMSF?

  • Provide details as per your investment strategy

How will you keep up to date with SMSF legislation changes?

Why has the ATO selected your SMSF for review?

The ATO has indicated they look at the following for every SMSF registration they receive:

  • history of insolvency
  • crimes related to dishonesty
  • previous SMSF history
  • personal lodgment and payment history
  • super balance and income
  • information about identities that have been used fraudulently

Where the ATO has to undertake a manual review for your SMSFs application it can take up to two months.

Delays can arise if the ATO is unable to reach you via phone so it’s important to answer calls from any unknown numbers if you are waiting on the ATO to approve your application.  

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