With the self managed superannuation fund (SMSF) annual return lodgment deadline upon us, minds should have already turned to meeting compliance requirements. The 2016–2017 financial year includes a few twists and turns which trustees should factor in to avoid late lodgement.

The major super changes from 1 July 2017 mean that SMSFs members with a pension balance of more than $1.6 million may need to consider reducing any excess, resetting CGT cost bases and getting actuarial certificates. This is in addition to the usual issues such as calculating taxable income and what expenses are deductible for the SMSF.

With all of these changes to be considered, the ATO has allowed an extension to lodge returns by 2 July.

Recordkeeping reminders

Good SMSF compliance hinges substantially on good recordkeeping. Some SMSFs have resolutions and minutes for every investment transaction while others don’t go into much detail at all. But what level of detail is really necessary? The answer lies in the fund’s trust deed, investment strategy and what is required by the tax and superannuation legislation.

For example, a fund with a single balanced option is unlikely to have to meet each time a contribution is made to decide where the money should go. In contrast, if the fund’s investment strategy is couched in broad terms and a member wishes to select specific investments as permitted by the fund’s trust deed, then documents indicating whether the selection is consistent with the overall investment strategy of the fund are likely to be worthwhile.

The superannuation law requires that some records must be retained for various periods. For example, the fund’s accounting records, annual returns and other statements must be kept for at least five years. Minutes of meetings for purposes such as reviewing the fund’s investment strategy, changes of trustees, member reports and storage of collectables and personal use assets need to be kept for at least
10 years. The fund’s trust deed and other essential documents should be retained if the trustees consider the fund may be subject to challenge.

Keeping records for an SMSF serves many purposes to provide a “corporate memory” for the fund, which may be required for compliance purposes as well as to protect trustees from any unfounded challenges.