SMSF administration and compliance

Follow this checklist to ensure your self managed super fund (SMSF) is set up correctly and remains compliant with the ATO.

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Running your own SMSF comes with a number of responsibilities, and it can be hard to keep on track of everything you need to do. This guide will provide a summary of the main things your SMSF needs to do to meet its legal and compliance obligations with the ATO, to avoid being fined.

Basic SMSF rules

Make sure your SMSF meets the following criteria:

  • Your SMSF must have no more than four members.
  • Your SMSF must have either an individual or corporate trustee structure. You can read more about these trustee structures here.
  • Your SMSF must be registered in Australia with the ATO
  • Members cannot be employees of other members (unless they're related)
  • The SMSF must only be used to provide benefits to members in retirement

SMSF compliance

One of the key benefits of an SMSF is that you have much more freedom with what you can invest in. However, there are still some rules your SMSF needs to follow.

  • Your SMSF needs to have a set investment strategy that is documented in writing and kept on file.
  • The investment strategy needs to be continually reviewed to ensure it's meeting the needs of all members, and all changes to the strategy need to be documented.
  • The SMSF assets have to be kept separately from your personal or business investments and from those of the other members.
  • All investments made by the SMSF must pass the 'sole-purpose test', meaning the investments must be purely to provide retirement benefits to members. If the members of your SMSF are already benefiting from the investments, it's likely that this means you'll fail the sole-purpose test.
  • Property investment made by the SMSF must follow the 'arms length' rule, meaning you can't rent the property to direct family members for cheaper rent than what would otherwise be charged, and you can't live in the property yourself.

Rules with investing in collectables and personal-use assets

SMSFs are created for retirement purposes and cannot grant benefits before retirement. If an SMSF invests in collectables (such as rare coins) and personal-use assets (such as expensive art or an antique car) it needs to comply with strict rules.

  • The collectable or personal-use asset cannot be leased or partially leased to a related party, it should be for personal use only.
  • It must be stored or displayed only in a private residence (if it's in a museum it's not personal use)
  • The item has to be stored in a documented place for ten years and insured within seven days of its purchase

Rules around SMSF contributions

The types of contributions that an SMSF can accept from the trustees or members are employer contributions (this is the super guarantee), personal contributions, salary sacrifice contributions, super co-contributions and eligible spouse contributions.

  • Any contribution has to be documented and has to be split and allocated to the fund members' account within 28 days.
  • Each member's concessional contributions (these are pre-tax contributions including personal and employee contributions) must not exceed $25,000 a year.
  • Members aged under 65 can contribute up to $300,000 in non-concessional (after-tax) contributions over a three-year period, provided their total SMSF balance is less than $1.4 million.

Annual SMSF ATO administration

As well as the above ongoing compliance responsibilities, your SMSF has some admin obligations to meet each year to remain compliant with the ATO.

  • Your SMSF must be audited by an approved SMSF auditor each financial year
  • Your SMSF must value it's assets each financial year
  • Your SMSF must prepare and lodge an annual operating statement with the ATO
  • Your SMSF must prepare and lodge an annual return with the ATO and pay the annual supervisory levy

Compare SMSF accounts

Name Product Maximum Variable Rate p.a. Standard Variable Rate p.a. Bonus Interest p.a. Fees
AMP SuperEdge Saver Account
Earn a competitive, ongoing rate of of 0.65% p.a. Available on all balances.
This account is for SMSF trustees to access their SMSF cash balance, to make payments and investments, and to receive income to the one account.
AMP SuperEdge Cash Account
Gain easy access to your funds while earning a competitive rate of interest with the AMP SuperEdge Cash Account.

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6 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    BenSeptember 28, 2018

    Can I use my superannuation to purchase cryptocurrency?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      CharisseSeptember 29, 2018Staff

      Hi Ben,

      Thanks for reaching out to Finder.

      The only way to invest super in cryptocurrency is to use self-managed superannuation (SMSF). You also need to be aware of certain guidelines ATO has implemented when it comes to using your SMSF in cryptocurrency transactions. You can learn more about ATO cryptocurrency rules in SMSFs.

      Just a friendly reminder, before investing in any cryptocurrency, please note that cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex, and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice before making any decision.

      I hope this helps.


    Default Gravatar
    JMay 1, 2018

    Do you have a comparator to compare the fees of a regular super account (e.g. admin fee) vs. the fees of an SMSF (e.g. auditing fee, reporting fee). I’m trying to figure out if I should switch from ING Living Super Term Deposits to ING SMSF Term Deposits.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaMay 3, 2018Staff

      Hi J,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you today. :)

      I’m afraid we do not have a dedicated page that will help you compare regular super accounts and SMSF. You may instead refer to our comparison table for super fund accounts.

      It would also be helpful to read our reviews for both ING Living Super Account and ING SMSF Term Deposit.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


      Default Gravatar
      JMay 3, 2018

      That last link isn’t working for me, but thanks.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaMay 3, 2018Staff

      You’re very much welcome, J. :)

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