ATO recognition of advisers comes with obligations

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has sent a clear message to financial planners that if they want “key intermediary” status alongside other tax professionals they will need to be prepared to call out bad behaviour on the part of their peers and unscrupulous others.

ATO assistant commissioner, Superannuation, Kasey Macfarlane used an address to a planning conference to point to the degree to which financial advisers wanted greater recognition from the ATO as key intermediaries in the tax and superannuation system but made clear this came with conditions.

“We know that financial advisers desire greater recognition from the ATO as a key intermediary in the tax and super systems, as well as better access to ATO held data and information about your clients so that you can provide them with the best possible level of service of advice. And we recognise that you are seeking more tailored guidance and access to ATO subject matter experts,” she said.

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Macfarlane said the ATO knew there was further work to be done in the area and was actively exploring and consulting with the financial advice profession about how things could be improved.

“However, like any positive working relationship, it is not unreasonable to expect that there be reciprocal obligations and expectations. The question that we would expect financial advisers to ask themselves in return is what can we do to support the ATO in its role in the superannuation system?” she said.

“The ATO is very much aware that the overwhelming majority of financial advisers and professionals act with the highest level of integrity and professionalism and are dedicated and committed to making a real difference to their clients through supporting them with the very important task of achieving their financial goals.

“However, it only takes a very small number of unscrupulous operators to damage the credibility of the whole profession and when these inappropriate and unprofessional behaviours permeate into the superannuation sector then that ripples through to also dent the trust and confidence in the superannuation system and indeed self managed superannuation funds (SMSFs).”

“Each of our respective roles in the SMSF sector comes from different perspectives but undoubtedly a common objective for us all is that we want SMSFs to continue to thrive and we want trust and confidence in the integrity of the SMSF brand to remain strong,” Macfarlane said. “Therefore, we would ask that in supporting us in this goal, that the financial advice sector stand with us in calling out and addressing inappropriate behaviours; whether that be the provision of inappropriate advice, the promotion of aggressive planning schemes, or even more serious matters involving the theft of people’s hard-earned superannuation monies through fraud.”

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So one bad apple can ruin the whole industry hey? Then what about the deputy ATO commissioner and his son? Dosent that put a shadow over everyone that works for the ATO? No ? why not, thats a bad apple isnt it and very close to the top of the tree? The ATO shouldnt be so condescending with our industry.

What utter rubbish. Most inappropriate advice I see in the SMSF sector is from accountants not financial planners. When asic gets serious and investigates the new limited licence brigade, it will be explosive.

Totally agree Ben! 95% of clients I come across with SMSF's should not have one! The only reasonable explanation is that the accountant recommended one to increase the level fees he/she could charge. It will be interesting to see how the accountants cope with the 'reasonable basis' test.

As for 'aggressive planning' schemes, I haven't come across a single example of a financial planner being involved in one. Plenty of examples where accountants have been involved though. There is a day of reckoning coming for the accounting profession...

Walk into any public accounting firm today and you'll here. "Would you like a fries with that tax return and a SMSF trust deed, how about we just set up a SMSF now and buy the big four banks and a term deposit...we've even gone to the trouble to set up a Commsec account for you" ... hypocrites & insulting given the circumstances.

I suggest the ATO is behind the times. The government has requied financial advisers to be registered with the TPB. Advisers are already "recognised". Come on ATO get you act into gear. Does the ATO require tax advisers to report bad behaviour of others? To whom do they report this bad behaviour? I have tried to report behavour in the past and no one wanted to know about it, especially not the ATO. Where is the whistle blower mechanism? The ATO is living with a deluded world view.....

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