Self-managed super funds are closely monitored by the ATO to ensure regulations are being met across all areas. As SMSF are run by members, it is their responsibility to comply with all related super and tax laws. The independent nature of an SMSF creates an environment that people are confused by or can attempt to exploit.
One area of concern for the ATO regarding SMSFs is that these types of funds are being used to gain access to super before preservation age. Preservation age is dictated by the year in which you were born, super cannot legally be accessed before you reach this age. A growing number of investors in their 30s, far off from their preservation age, are moving their super into an SMSF in an attempt to gain access to their super early. The ATO has noticed an increase in this strategy in the last five years. If found to be doing this, penalties can include funds being wound up, a 45% tax impost being applied, administrative penalties which have a cost attached, or being disqualified from running a fund.
The ATO is also looking into possible problem areas in relation to SMSF contraventions. Loans to SMSF members, in-house assets, investing in related-party assets and failure to keep assets separated, account for the bulk of the contravention reports. With that being said, the ATO lists administrative errors, sole purpose breaches, borrowings, operating standards and acquisitions of assets from related parties as categories also seen in contravention reports. To avoid these issues in relation to your funds, make sure your SMSF is accessible in regards to your assets and keep detailed records to help substantiate transactions.