Question 6 – Have you registered your SMSF?

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You need to register your SMSF with the ATO once you have:

  • established your SMSF trust deed;
  • set aside a nominal amount (e.g., $10); and
  • obtained signed trustee declarations.

You can register your fund by applying for an Australian Business Number (ABN) at the Australian Business Register. The site contains a number of questions you need to complete before becoming entitled to an ABN. You need to do this within 60 days of establishing your fund.

Also, you can do the following during the registration process:

  • elect for your SMSF to be regulated – for your SMSF to be a complying fund and receive tax concessions, you must elect for it to be ‘regulated’. Further, no deduction is allowable for superannuation contributions made to unregulated funds.
  • TFN – the ATO will also provide a TFN to all funds that register for an ABN.
  • GST registration – you SMSF must register for GST if its income for GST purposes is at least $75,000. Note many amounts received by an SMSF will not count towards the threshold (e.g., dividends, interest, superannuation contributions and trust distributions). If your SMSF owns commercial property, it will generally be required to register for GST if it derives annual rental income from a commercial property of at least $75,000.
  • PAYG withholding – if your SMSF is paying superannuation benefits, it may need to register with the ATO and remit tax from benefit payments to the ATO.


ATO Risk review process and Super Fund lookup

The ATO reviews each application prior to establishing any new SMSF against a range of criteria. For example, some criteria are used to check whether the fund may be used to access superannuation savings early. The ATO may also review you and other fund members personally to check whether you have complied with your personal tax obligations.

If the ATO has no concerns with the application, the SMSF will appear on Super Fund lookup within 7 days of the registration. Note, if your SMSF does not appear on Super Fund lookup (also referred to as SFLU), the fund cannot receive any rollovers, transfers or contributions.


TIP – What to do if the 60 day period has expired

If you are late, contact the ATO in writing to explain the reasons for the delay. Address your letter to:

Australian Taxation Office
GPO Box 9990

Do not replace the words ‘IN YOUR CAPITAL CITY’ with the name of your capital city and its postcode – because of a special agreement the ATO has with Australia Post, they are not needed. An SMSF Specialist Advisor (SSA) can assist drafting your letter, and dealing with the ATO, if required.


Tips on completing the registration process

The ATO has noted the following points about the registration process:

  • You can apply for an ABN here.
  • When completing the application, ensure the correct entity is selected. Click on ‘superannuation entity’ in the ABN entitlement question that reads For taxation purposes which type of entity is the applicant?
  • Also in the application, select ‘ATO regulated Self-Managed Superannuation Fund’ in the question that reads Type of organisation. If you register the wrong type of fund, you will need to get in touch with the ATO. We recommend you speak to an SMSF Specialist Advisor (SSA) if you do not complete the registration process correctly.
  • Select a value in the question that reads What is the value of assets held by the fund? As noted above, you can set up an SMSF with a nominal amount (e.g., $10) if you anticipate, a rollover, transfer or contributions to be made. If you have set up the fund with a nominal amount, click on ‘$1 – $10,000’ in the selection box, as shown below:


WARNING – SMSF tax return required for the year of registration

New SMSFs that receive their ABN using the ABN entitlement tool set out above must lodge an annual return for the first year of registration, unless a ‘Return not necessary’ (RNN) request has been submitted to the ATO. The ATO will generally allow an RNN for a newly registered SMSF in its first year of registration where a transfer, roll-over or contribution (aside from the nominal amount) may not have occurred in the first financial year. Evidence will need to be provided to the ATO to confirm the date assets were first placed in your SMSF. We recommend you speak to an SMSF Specialist Advisor (SSA) who can also assist in dealing with the ATO, if required.