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ATO trustee course takes shape

SMSF trustees course

An SMSF trustees competency course is currently being finalised by the ATO to ensure the appropriate individuals are looking to run their own super fund.

The ATO is close to finalising a course for SMSF trustees that will give the regulator more comfort the appropriate individuals are the ones looking to run their own super fund and they understand the accompanying legal aspects of doing so.

“We’re actually developing a training program that’s going to have a competency assessment associated with it. We’re calling this our SMSF Trustee Knowledge Assurance Package and it’s going to be there to help trustees and anyone who wants to enter the system to understand their obligations,” ATO SMSF segment deputy commissioner Steven Keating revealed at an industry summit this week.

The course will be provided to trustees at no cost and will focus on five specific modules, Keating said.

“[The first module is] setting up an SMSF. The second one is running a fund and that’s going to cover things like contributions and investments,” he noted.

“Paying benefits is the third [module], which will cover pensions and lump sum payments. Winding up an SMSF [is the fourth module] and importantly, from our point of view, [the fifth module will cover] reporting and general compliance obligations.

“At the end of the course [trustees] can complete an assessment and anyone who gets 80 per cent or more will receive a certificate of completion.”

The regulator’s intention to develop a test for individuals looking to establish an SMSF was first reported by smstrusteenews in June last year.

At the time, then ATO SMSF segment assistant commissioner Dana Fleming said the test would have to be completed before an individual could legitimately set up an SMSF.

According to Fleming, the test is not meant to be a pass or fail proposition, with the initiative being introduced in response to a recommendation from the Productivity Commission review into the efficiency and competitiveness of Australia’s superannuation system.

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