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A “widespread lack of proper certification” among cornerstone accounting firms is leaving many of them at risk of receiving hefty fines, a national accounting and advisory firm has warned.
Crowe Horwath superannuation and SMSF expert Samantha Comer said despite the fact that every accountant needs to be adequately licensed to provide SMSF advice and services, many are not.
“They have probably been giving SMSF advice for a long time and will likely keep giving this advice, even though they no longer have the adequate licensing to do so,” she said.
The lack of a licence is also likely to have significant knock-on effects for clients, with many SMSF trustees failing to understand how to adequately run their own super fund.
“There were changes to the insurance rules for SMSFs which came into play for the 2014-15 year and SMSF trustees might face fines up to $10,800 per trustee if they haven’t complied. There could be a lot of crackdowns leaving individual trustees liable for substantial fines,” Ms Comer said.
“Many people are simply unaware of these changes and thousands of people could be affected. We might see a crackdown on compliance in the coming months.”
SMSF trustees will also need to take note of other changes to the SMSF regulations, such as the proposed capping of super fund pension balances that can be exempt from income tax.
“SMSFs have undergone a steep growth curve of demand over the past years, so it is still surprising how many people are not aware of the opportunities and limitations when it comes to best utilising this avenue for retirement investments,” she added.