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New ATO powers could expose advisers

The ATO’s new SMSF trustee penalty regime could leave some advisers “exposed”, according to The SMSF Academy.

Late last year, the Coalition announced it will proceed with proposed measures to give the ATO more flexibility and new penalty powers when dealing with non-compliance among SMSFs.

The measures originally proposed that the ATO have power to impose administration penalties on trustees for certain SIS Act breaches.

In addition, it proposed the ATO have power to direct SMSF trustees to fix a breach and direct trustees to undergo education in the event of a breach.

The proposed measures were originally a Cooper Review recommendation and have received widespread support from the SMSF sector, including from AMP SMSF.

However, Mr Dunn said practitioners may be faced with “unhappy” trustees looking to recover costs incurred under the new regime as a result of potentially inadequate advice.

“These new directive, education and administrative powers could potentially leave some professionals exposed, with certain individual trustees looking to point the finger at their advisers who haven’t appropriately discussed their trustee options in establishing and operating their fund,” Mr Dunn said.