The ATO has pushed back the date for the lodgement of SMSF annual returns (SAR) in response to COVID-19 in a move welcomed by the SMSF Association.
As part of an update to information on its website relating to lodgement obligations related to superannuation, the regulator stated the SAR deferral was due to COVID-19 and all lodgements and payments related to 2018/19 annual returns would be pushed back from 15 May to the end of the current financial year.
“The requirement for an SMSF to appoint an auditor 45 days before lodgement of their annual return will place pressure on SMSFs to meet upcoming lodgement deadlines,” it said.
“To help, we are automatically applying a deferral for the lodgement of the 2019 SMSF annual returns until 30 June 2020.”
The latest announcement is a shift from earlier this month when ATO SMSF segment assistant commissioner Dana Fleming said a blanket deferral was not under consideration at that time.
SMSF Association chief executive John Maroney said the automatic deferral of SMSF lodgements to 30 June demonstrated the flexible approach the ATO was taking as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and should be applauded.
“In these very difficult times, we have been able to work constructively with the ATO to find solutions for SMSFs affected by both the government’s decision to lock down the economy and the extreme market volatility,” Maroney said.
He said discussions with ATO commissioner Chris Jordan and Fleming had been “fruitful” and allowed the association to work through a number of issues stemming from the crisis.
“What’s been extremely pleasing is the positive approach of the ATO on these issues. There is a realisation that these difficult times require pragmatic solutions that might not be in strict accordance with the legislation,” he noted.
The extension is the latest in a series of relief measures introduced by the ATO in response to COVID-19 that now includes early access to superannuation, rent relief for landlords who rent out a property owned by an SMSF and no compliance action in regards to breaches of the in-house asset rules.
“These initiatives are indicative of how the ATO has responded in a constructive way to the economic and market consequences of this tragic pandemic, and we will continue to work with the regulator to ensure the SMSF sector emerges from this crisis in the best possible shape,” Maroney said.
Despite the deferral, SMSFs will still be required to report any limited recourse borrowing arrangements they have under a new section in the SAR that is being introduced this year following changes that passed through parliament in October 2019.