The consequences of not lodging SMSF annual returns on time

Ensuring that your SMSF annual return is lodged on time is a critical part of the obligations of an SMSF trustee.

The ATO has made an important change starting from 1 October 2019. After that date, if an SMSF annual return is lodged more than two weeks after the lodgement due date and hasn’t requested a lodgement deferral, the ATO will change the status on Super Fund Lookup (SFLU) to ‘Regulation details removed’.

What is Super Fund Lookup (SFLU)?

Super Fund Lookup contains publicly available information about super funds that have an ABN. It includes super funds regulated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). You can find out more information on the Super Fund Lookup website –

The ATO has said they are taking this approach because non-lodgment along with disengagement indicates that the SMSF retirement savings may be at risk. This change in status will remain until all overdue lodgements are brought up to date.

The new process states that on the first business day of each month, there is a two-step process for updating SFLU;

  1. Where the SMSF trustee hasn’t lodged the annual return on time and it’s more than two weeks overdue, the ATO will change the SMSF status to ‘Regulation details removed’ on SFLU.
  2. Where overdue lodgments are received for the SMSF during the previous month, the ATO will update SFLU to reinstate the SMSF’s ‘complying’ status.

It is important to understand how these changes will affect SMSF’s who lodge their annual returns more than two-weeks late. The change of status means that APRA funds won’t roll over any member benefits to the SMSF and employers may choose not to make any super guarantee contributions to the SMSF.

To avoid any possible changes to status and the accompanying issues SMSF trustees must seek a deferral to lodge their SMSF annual returns. If a trustee knows they will or may be late with the SMSF annual return they must seek the deferral, before the due date. This will ensure the status of the fund remains compliant. To ensure there are no issues, requests for deferral should be submitted well before month’s end. This will help to ensure the request for deferral is actioned before SFLU is updated. 

If the SMSF trustee finds themself in a position where the SFLU status of the fund has been changed to  ‘Regulation details removed’, members should then alert their employer. The member can request that their employer make payments into the employer’s default super fund or another fund of the member’s choice. 

After the SFLU status of the SMSF has been updated to ‘complying’, members can then request a rollover to their SMSF of any member benefits that were made to other super funds while the non compliant status was in place.

It is very important to ensure SMSF annual returns are lodged on time. Even understanding the correct dates can be confusing for the uninitiated at times. You should make sure you speak with a registered SMSF auditor to ensure you meet all of the correct dates and other compliance requirements. This will ensure you avoid possible consequences for misunderstanding the ATO’s requirements.

B.I.T. Accountants are a highly regarded market leader, providing a high quality, professional and timely superannuation audit service to clients Australia wide. Whether you are an individual or a practice needing to service clients who require SMSF auditing, B.I.T. Accountants can help. Contact us today for more information.

DISCLAIMER: The above is general advice only, you should not act on this advice without consulting a professional adviser to discuss your personal circumstances.