SMSF Audits – Keeping the ATO from the Door


While prevention is always better than cure, some clients will inevitably find themselves having to deal with an ATO audit of their SMSF.

Shirley Schaefer (BDO) describes herself as “an auditor by training, but an SMSF expert by choice.”

At the 51st Western Australia State Convention in August, Shirley will look at some of the issues facing advisers and trustees around SMSF Audits in her session “Keeping the ATO from the door”.

Shirley tells us about some of the areas of focus and blind spots in this post.

“There are certain trustee behaviours and types of investments that the ATO considers ‘high risk’, and ATO interpretations can change regularly. While this may not be a problem in itself – making sure your trustee clients get things right is important” she said.

“Some of the biggest issues are in not identifying contraventions or not realising that SMSF investments may have ‘fallen foul’ of the ATO guidelines or SISA requirements.  This is a complex area of law and being able to identify breaches is important.”

Shirley’s session will shed light on current SMSF audit issues, including some practical examples of SMSF horror stories and how to fix them.

“I’m hoping to provide a practical review of what gets the ATO’s attention and how to keep your clients from ‘falling foul’ of the ATO. I’ll also cover some practical tips to help get your clients out of the ATO’s sights and what is required to ‘fix’ contraventions or rectify.”


Shirley will also present some practical examples of Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 compliance issues, how to fix the problems and how to deal with the ATO to get the best outcome.

“Advisers need to be on their toes, since ATO interpretation can change continually. I’m also going to look at some of the more unusual SMSF investment categories, including cryptocurrencies, and how the ATO views these types of investments. Ultimately, I want people to leave with a better understanding of where the SISA trustee behaviour and trustee investment risks lie and making sure their clients understand these rules.”

Shirley has over 20 years’ experience as a Chartered Accountant and joined the South Australian firm, BDO, in 1994, becoming a Director in 2001. Appointed BDO’s National Partner for Superannuation in 2010, she is regularly sought after as a speaker for conferences and technical training sessions.

Shirley Schaefer
“My strengths are in compliance and I often call myself a ‘professional wet blanket’ as I seem to say ‘no’ to many client requests. Knowing what SMSFs can and cannot do, particularly in the investment space, is complex but it is important that client’s ask first, after all, it’s always easier to prevent than detect and correct. My passion for education and training extends not just to my own clients but to other professionals.” 

The 51st Western Australia State Convention takes place 16-17 August 2018 at Crown Perth. 

Featuring 19 sessions over two days, the technical program places a strong emphasis on the practical, looking at real-world CGT issues, practical issues in tax and insolvency, taxing goodwill, key issues in operating overseas, and more, across two dedicated SME and corporate streams.

Find out more about Shirley’s session, and the rest of the program on our website

Popular posts from this blog

July's tax developments - in depth

How the tax profession can stay relevant

SMSFs and the state of play post-2017's reforms