The ATO has announced it is developing an online SMSF trustee test that individuals would have to complete before they can legitimately establish an SMSF.
Speaking at the recent SMSF Trustee Empowerment Day 2019, ATO SMSF segment assistant commissioner Dana Fleming said: “We’ve been trying to think how can we get some more visibility or messaging around how important it is [for trustees] to do some education so you actually understand your risks and your obligations and that the penalties sit with you if something goes wrong.
“And so we are going to think about creating an online test where you complete a course or watch our videos [and afterwards] you could just do a simple test which will give you some comfort that you really are across the key risks and things you have to do.
“That’s in progress and when we’ve got that finalised we’ll probably introduce an upfront declaration for new trustees that they’ve read the material on our website and they’ve done the test.”
She stressed the test is being designed to give the SMSF regulator greater comfort that individuals embarking on running their own super fund are conscious of what is involved in doing so.
“This is not [going to be] a pass-fail situation. We’re just trying to raise people’s awareness and provide opportunities and easier ways for them to do that,” she noted.
The initiative is in line with one of the findings of the recent Productivity Commission review into the efficiency and competitiveness of Australia’s superannuation system, she pointed out.
“It did consider mandatory trustee education as an option, so if you want to be a trustee, you’d have to go and do an approved course, but decided to hold off on that for the time being and it put in place a couple of other measures,” she said.
“But it didn’t reject it out of hand and said if those recommendations don’t have an impact, potentially mandatory trustee education would be on the cards.”