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The Institute of Public Accountants has queried whether the role of ASIC is that of effective regulator and enforcer, or that of revenue raiser for the government.
The IPA pointed to ASIC’s 2016-17 annual report, noting that the corporate regulator raised $920.24 million for the federal government in fees and charges, a 5 per cent rise from the previous year.
However, it also received around $349 million in appropriation revenue against $392.46 million in expenses, leaving a deficit of $43.5 million.
IPA chief executive Andrew Conway said this indicates that ASIC is doing a much better job of raising revenue for the government than what it is doing in terms of enforcement.
“In other words, even though ASIC is making significant income for government, it is not even able to cover its own costs from the budget it receives from government,” Mr Conway said.
“This also means that ASIC is raising substantially more revenue than its operational costs, which appears to go against the government’s own Charging Framework.
“If the aim of the game is revenue, it may explain why ASIC sought a proposed one-off fee increase … for new auditors of SMSFs, which we argued was exorbitant.”
Last month, the IPA questioned ASIC’s proposed fee hike for SMSF auditors, who now face a one-off $1,927 registration fee.
While that is down from the $3,429 initially proposed by the corporate regulator, it is still a considerable jump from the current $107 fee.
Mr Conway thinks the proposed fee is still far too high and will only deter new entrants into the SMSF auditor market. In addition, not only is ASIC overcharging, the government “is double-dipping”.
“The ATO currently already collects $259 from each SMSF to finance the SMSF monitoring role the ATO conducts on behalf of ASIC. Whilst this levy was a mere $45 in 2008 it now equates to approximately $142.5 million to monitor the sector including SMSF auditors,” Mr Conway said.
“We have a much bigger concern if a new funding model is only focused on government revenue without equipping the corporate regulator to do its job adequately.”