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Quarterly reporting regime means communication now paramount: expert

Communication between SMSF trustees, accountants and advisers is more crucial than ever with the quarterly reporting rules coming into force, says a leading specialist.


Anthony Cullen, senior SMSF educator with Accurium, said in a recent webinar there need to be open lines of communication between advisers, administrators, accountants and trustees so that every person involved with an SMSF is clear about what is going on in terms of planning, debits and credits.

“Transfer balance account reporting (TBAR) is the way the ATO tracks against personal transfer balance and requires a number of events to be recorded,” he said.

“How often that is needed to be done in the superannuation world depends on what is needed to be reported, but there were changes on 1 July 2023, which have streamlined the time frames of what we can and what we should be reporting.”

Historically, SMFSs were either defined as quarterly, or annual reporters but Mr Cullen said now every fund is considered a quarterly reporter, which includes any former annual reporters, including grandfathering reporting.

Mr Cullen said accountants and administrators who are not actively involved in the financial planning side of an SMSF could find they do not have all the relevant information they may need for quarterly TBAR reporting, especially if a client has established their pension with their adviser.

“For example, an adviser may tell the client what they need to draw in regards to their pension, and the accountant may only find out about it when the reporting is due, which is why communication is really important,” he said.

“If you're a client and you're dealing with an adviser and want to start a pension that's fine, you could probably go through that process, but you need to make sure that your accountant is aware of it. The same applies to decisions made with the accountant that the financial adviser will need to know.”

He added that backdating certain events such as starting a pension is not an option since a tax ruling in 2013 (TR2013/5) Income Tax: when a superannuation income stream commences and ceases, which focuses on when a super income stream commences and ceases, and when a super income stream is payable.

Concerning what balances to report, Mr Cullen said the ATO does allow for a “reasonable estimate”, but also stressed that according to TR2013/5, the ATO also stipulates that a pension cannot be started until all the capital in the fund has been included.

“There is an expectation that as the trustees of a fund you have a reasonable idea of what the pension value is going to be and so can lodge a TBAR with a reasonable estimate,” he said.

“Once the account is finalised and if the estimate is different to the actual amount, the ATO has agreed that if it's material, you can go through the process of cancelling the prior notice and launching a new one.”


Keeli Cambourne
01 February 2024

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