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ATO targeting SMSFs that fail to lodge annual returns

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Published by:
David Armstrong
Published on:
May 07, 2022
Modoras Accounting (SYD) Pty Ltd ABN 18 622 475 521

The ATO has observed an increase in the number of SMSFs that fail to lodge their first annual return and become what the ATO refers to as ‘NEVER’ lodgers. The ATO is particularly concerned where there has been a roll-over into these SMSFs, as this is a strong indicator illegal early release of superannuation benefits may have occurred.

A minority of SMSF trustees continue to ignore ATO reminders about lodging annual returns. This group is now being targeted with a compliance campaign the ATO calls ‘3 strikes and you’re out’.
Under this campaign, the ATO will take the following action:

  1. The ATO’s compliance action starts with a blue letter, that encourages trustees to take immediate action and lodge their return and provides a pathway for those in need of support.
  2. If the ATO does not receive a response to the blue letter, it will issue an amber letter warning the trustees of the consequences of failing to lodge their return.
  3. If the ATO still does not receive a response, it will issue a final warning, a red letter advising the ATO is commencing the disqualification process and considering other enforcement action.

Last year the ATO issued red letters to trustees who had never lodged their first annual return and has now commenced disqualifying the 95 trustees that did not respond.

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